City Desk

GW Hatchet Annoyed Administration Was Doing Its Job

The GWU Hatchet scolds the school's administration for not announcing there was a threat of a gun at the school's medical center:

A suspect called Bread for the City, a local organization that provides services for low-income individuals, and said he planned to visit GW’s medical center – the Medical Faculty Associates located at 2150 Pennsylvania Ave. – with an AK-47 to shoot doctors and patients, according to police records.

At 11:57 a.m., MPD was called to the scene, Alali said, and officers arrived by 12:11 p.m.

The Hatchet inquired about a potential threat of weapons on campus with UPD Chief Kevin Hay at about 12:36 p.m. after receiving a tip. University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard responded instead, deferring all questions and comments to MPD.

She declined to confirm the reports of a potential weapon threat, saying MPD was the lead on the incident.

MPD public information officer Anthony Clay confirmed officers were investigating a threat of a weapon at the building at about 1:07 p.m.

The Hatchet correctly called and checked in about the threat, and got the expected non-answer. No weapon or suspect materialized, and the University notified the campus community a little before 3 p.m. about a non-specific threat. The Hatchet points out some discrepancies in the University's story and MPD's and then brings up the Clery Act of 1990, which requires administrators to notify the campus immediately about a serious threat, and quotes an attorney of unknown affiliation who suggests that the University is non-compliant.

Which is ridiculous.

As one who has worked in a university press shop, where once a bomb threat was called in (there was no bomb), and another time a gun was allegedly spotted on campus (it turned out to be a toy), I can tell you that these situations are every university administration's nightmare. Post Virginia Tech, schools are incredibly careful to evaluate any danger to campus, but they also know that announcing unconfirmed threats can create a major panic, which in turn creates more problems. Say what you will about campus administrators (like, for example, they make too much money) but know one thing: They do not play around when it comes to threats on campus.

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