Pitt outlines new plans for final exams and dormitories

By Mallory Grossman

Pitt students might have extra visitors during their finals this week; police who sweep, but… Updated 8:45 p.m. Pitt students might have some visitors during their finals this week: police who will sweep, but not evacuate, exam locations.

Patricia Beeson, Pitt’s provost and senior vice chancellor, sent a letter to students Sunday that announced the University’s plan for finals week. Finals will be held in five buildings, which will have increased security and be swept for explosives before each exam day.

Law enforcement officials will assess any threat that might be sent to these five buildings, and the buildings will only be evacuated if a received threat is viewed as imminent. If a threat is received but isn’t believed to be imminent, affected buildings will be swept for explosives but not evacuated.

“These arrangements reflect the expert advice we have received from law enforcement professionals, the experience we have gained over the past several weeks and the special circumstances associated with finals week,” Beeson said in the email.

Final exams will take place in Alumni Hall, Benedum Hall, the Cathedral of Learning, Chevron Science Center and David Lawrence Hall. A revised listing of the exam room for each specific final will be available at my.pitt.edu at least 24 hours prior to its scheduled start time. In keeping with current procedure, students, staff and faculty will be required to show Pitt IDs and have their bags checked by security before entering exam locations.

Sophomore Brittany Cabot has two finals this week. While her Physics II exam will be held in David Lawrence, she will have to wait 24 hours before her Intro to Neuroscience exam to receive the classroom assignment.

“It’s kind of comforting to know that I can go into a test and not have to rush through it thinking a bomb threat will go off at any time. I can now take my time and answer all questions thoroughly,” Cabot said.

Residence halls will be swept for explosives every evening, with access still limited to those with Pitt IDs.

If a threat is received for a dorm, law enforcement officials will assess it and decide if it is imminent.

Beeson said that if a threat to a dormitory is not deemed imminent, Pitt will send out an ENS alert saying,

“A threat has been received, but it is not believed to be genuine, and that evacuation is voluntary, not mandatory.”

If a threat is viewed as imminent, alarms will go off and Pitt will evacuate the affected buildings. Targeted buildings will be searched regardless of whether mandatory evacuation occurs.

For all other non-dormitory campus buildings, current procedures will remain the same.

Cabot said the even though Pitt will not evacuate after a bomb threat is received in all cases, she still feels safe.

“They said we’d be notified if there is imminent danger and I trust their judgment because they have been dealing with these for weeks. I do not feel threatened or endangered by this policy in any way,” she said.

“But I do like how they’ll text us for dorms, so evacuating is optional but not mandatory. It gives individuals who feel nervous the opportunity to leave while not disrupting the rest of us.”

Pitt received eight bomb threats Saturday, following six threats targeting dormitories early Friday morning.

At 9:50 a.m. Saturday, Pitt sent out an Emergency Notification System alert notifying the campus of bomb threats at Litchfield Towers, Salk Hall, the Cathedral of Learning, Pennsylvania Hall, Ruskin Hall and Scaife Hall.

All of the targeted buildings were evacuated and were cleared by 12:15 p.m.

Freshman Kayla Martine, who lives in Litchfield Towers, has been evacuated multiple times from her dorm — but continues to stay on campus, even after all of her finals moved online.

“I feel like most of the people who felt unsafe in the situation have already left, but I think that this will now make people feel safer in the sense that we won’t have to worry about evacuating in the middle of the night while we still have exams,” Martine said.

Staff Writer Megan Trimble contributed to this story.