Students respond to Holmes Hall detonation and assess campus safety

Students respond to Holmes Hall detonation and assess campus safety

North East student life mostly back to normal after stay on campus package detonationbut some still wonder what exactly happened and why the administration apparently moved on.

To around 7:18 p.m. on September 13a pelican case in Northeastern’s virtual reality lab located at Holmes Hall was depressurized causing minor injuries to Jason Duhaimevirtual reality program head of new technologies, according to the Boston Globe. The university evacuated students in the building and other surrounding areas and canceled all remaining evening classes. a note claiming the university has ties to Mark Zuckerberg, robots and that the US government has been found with the case.

The explosion is now under investigation as potential hoax, but there was no clear answer regarding a motive or who is responsible. This uncertainty has left some students wondering about the university’s response.

“The most important thing that pleased me afterwards was that we got more information about what happened from [both local and national news outlets] than from Northeastern, and I think a lot of people have said that,” said Madison Neuner, a fourth-year journalism and communications major.

Neuner was in their first semester photojournalism class at Holmes Hall when the incident happened. A fire alarm went off in the building, but the professor and the students did not immediately decide to leave, as fire alarms frequently go off by accident. Neuner said it didn’t seem “strange” to them. It wasn’t until the teacher saw that the other class in the building was leaving that they realized they had to evacuate.

When you come out of the building you immediately see all the police cars, you see the bomb squad, you see the fire truck with a giant ladder going up to the building, so we knew something was up” , Neuner said. “It wasn’t just a drill. It wasn’t just a tiny thing. »

Neuner said their class got out their phones and cameras to take pictures, noting there was a sense of “positive energy” in the photojournalism class. Soon after, the police widened the perimeter, limiting student access to the area.

Class continued in an empty classroom in West Village G. Neuner eventually walked out of class to accept a phone call from their mother and stayed at a cross country teammate’s residence for the night.

Neuner said after talking to their teammates, they realized the students who hadn’t been in the area of ​​the incident didn’t know what was going on.

“We saw the scene develop over that time, and we knew more than anyone at the time, because Northeastern didn’t send any communication until about 40 minutes after the fire alarm went off in our building,” Neuner said. “So everyone didn’t even know it was happening until 40 minutes later.”

Northeastern sent the first alert at 7:55 p.m., which read “emergency services [were] responding to an incident at Holmes Hall” and asked students to “avoid the area during the investigation”. Neuner questioned the university’s long response time and lack of information distributed to students.

“Northeastern’s communication was so vague that it wasn’t helpful,” Neuner said. “And I think it just made people more scared, confused, nervous and probably a little angry, to be honest.”

They also criticized the university’s decision to resume classes the next day. Their friend had a class at 8 a.m., which Neuner said was just over 12 hours after the explosion.

“To continue classes at a normal pace like everything was normal less than a day after it happened was kind of crazy,” Neuner said. “I don’t have classes on Wednesdays so for me I’ve had a chance to sit down and digest what’s happened and be taken out of it as well, but a lot of people haven’t had this opportunity to sit down with themselves and do a mental check on how they felt about what was going on.

Other students who spoke with The News felt Northeastern had done its best given the circumstances. Alex Buckley, a third-year political science and journalism student who was also in the photojournalism class that night, said that while Northeastern’s response wasn’t perfect, it didn’t put anyone in serious danger.

“I guess it wasn’t ideal. They could have sent out a notice for people to just avoid that part of campus,” Buckley said. “At the same time, the police [had] literally cordoned off that part of the campus so it’s not like anyone could accidentally trip over the bomb.

He said that when he came out, students in the surrounding dormitories were shouting from their windows, trying to ask the class and the police what had happened. None of these students seemed visibly scared or upset, he said, just curious.

Buckley said he assumed the second email sent by the university, with a subject line including “Blast 2” was an unfortunate mistake.

“I guess someone forgot to change it in the draft,” Buckley said. “So that was pretty funny.”

He said students can’t expect the university to release everything in the first moments after the incident because the administration doesn’t always have all the answers. He added that during his three years on campus, he generally felt it was a safe environment.

“Some areas near campus can be seedy, especially at night. Personally, I haven’t had any incidents and I don’t have any friends who have had bad incidents,” Buckley said. “So, you know, it’s a city school, right?” You are in a city. There are a lot of people here. There are going to be some not so great people. Overall, I generally feel quite safe on campus.

Ryan Gehrlein, a fourth-year computer science and game development student who worked alongside Duhaime for a game studio course in 2020, found the coverage of the bang disturbing.

“I’m mixed that his name is officially out now that everyone is spreading rumors that the event was… organized,” Gehrlein said. “When I took the game studio course in fall 2020, we were working with VR headsets, so I was in the lab with him and other students on weeknights working.”

Gehrlein described Duhaime as passionate about his work in virtual reality and excited to help Gehrlein with his project.

Like Neuner, Gehrlein was left in the dark about the nature of the university’s emergency messages. Officials evacuated Gehrlein’s roommates from their West Village residence, but many students found themselves on campus wandering with unanswered questions. Gehrlein said some security guards seemed as unsure of protocol as the students.

“[My roommate] told me she asked a few guards where she could detour since they had a large area cordoned off right around West Village E, and they just ignored her,” Gehrlein said. “I came out to take a picture of the area after which she walked around and walked into Ruggles Street…Funny enough, after I came out to take a picture a security guard came from behind and m said to ‘choose a direction and keep walking’, so I went back inside.

Although Gehrlein said he was disappointed with Northeastern’s communication with students, he understands why the university prioritized securing the area around the detonation first, he said. Still, Gehrlein said the lack of communication could have been potentially dangerous.

“The fact that they sent out an email titled ‘Explosion 2’ would be fun if it didn’t make it a lot more stressful for people and help fuel misinformation about the increase in bombs,” said Gehrlein. “Overall, though, I feel like they’ve handled it pretty well in terms of securing the area, but they definitely need to communicate with people on campus about what’s going on, because I think they could have put people at risk with the way they handled that aspect of this situation.

After the incident, students tried to get back to normal, but some who spoke with The News are still pondering how close the alleged explosion was.

“Obviously you don’t want this to happen anywhere, but of all the places it could have happened, of course it happened at my college in a building that I was in, in running a normal course on a normal day,” Neuner said. “Of course it’s happening right next to me.”

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