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Opinion

Worrisome ‘Ides of October’ threat brings heightened security, caution

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October 17, 2014

The events on campus in the past week have taken an unexpected turn; twice the campus police have informed students and staff of a shooting threat against the campus community, planned for Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Students and staff alike have been abuzz about the threat, many unsure what they should be doing. Because not a lot of information is available, it is unclear if we are in fact in danger on Wednesday or any other day this week.

It is likely that most, if not all, current students have never experienced a situation like this. It is also likely that it is nothing more than someone trying to stir trouble, but the hard part is, we can never be too sure.

I became a student at UW-River Falls three years ago in September of 2011. Now a senior, I can safely say that I have never encountered a situation like this.

Of course we hear about shooting upon shooting on the news, such as Virginia Tech University or Sandy Hook Elementary, or even lock downs at the University of Minnesota. Yes, they are sad. Yes, they are concerning. But within a month, they are forgotten about, especially if you have no affiliation whatsoever with the victims or other people involved.

It is not until a threat or act of violence hits close to home that we realize this is real life, this happens, and it is scary. If there is anything good to come out of a threat like this, it is that we realize that we need to take violent actions seriously. We can never be too careful.

There are students and staff who no doubt are not going to class on Wednesday, while there are others telling everyone to stop being scared; this could happen any day.

Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. It is highly doubtful that the threat will be carried out; but even so, what do we know? There aren’t nearly enough details for any of us to make a fair conclusion. Still, people that tell others to stop being scared, because this could happen any day? Anything could happen any day, yes. But, even then, these threats do not happen every day. UWRF is not on the news every day, if ever.

Of course we have a reason to be scared. I am not as afraid of flying bullets as I am about uncertainty. It scares me that I don’t know the whole story, what is going to actually happen.

In this time of crisis, it is important to remember there is a lot to be thankful for. Every time I walk outside I see a police officer either walking or driving around. People have said that makes them nervous, like they did something wrong. I love seeing the police officers. It makes walking around campus feel a lot safer. They are obviously taking this situation very seriously and care very deeply about the security of students and staff.

If you see a police officer in the next couple of days, thank them, or at least give them a nod. Also be thankful for your parents. It may seem a little over-the-top that they want to call you multiple times and “freak out,” as the case may be. More than likely, they see this as a far more serious situation than you do. Do not ignore them. They want you to be OK, they want to hear your voice. It gives them a sense of comfort knowing you are safe, and they will do anything in case you feel that you are not.

This is not something that happens frequently on our campus, and hopefully it will not happen again. Of course we may not see anything more than has been provided to us and it is possible nothing will happen. Still, there is nothing wrong with taking precautions, no matter what people tell you. If you are afraid to go to class, don’t go. It may seem like a risk to miss a big exam or due date, but that is something you can certainly make up. You can’t make up a lost life.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.