Students and faculty react to lockdown of university

Scott Viau

When the lockdown occurred, it wasn’t just for students in class. Regardless of where students were, they were asked not to leave the premises.

Student workers in the Wildcat Den had been there from around 5:30 a.m. preparing food for students who were to arrive later for breakfast, but when the alert came that a serious situation was in progress and it was alleged that a gunman may open fire on campus, the Den locked its doors and waited for more information.

All area public schools were put on lockdown and later released the students to go home periodically throughout day while police patrolled the area. // Ashley Wiggins/NW

Later in the afternoon, students in the dorms were released to both the Den and the Marketplace (MP) in order to receive food. President Wong made an appearance at the Wildcat Den thanking students for their cooperation and as well as giving them a personal update on the situation.

“We’ll be trying to keep you up to date with messages. As you know, the story has broken nationwide,” Wong said. “The governor called me, offered me his support and his first question was ‘Are the students safe?’ But again, we’re not going to open up campus until we’re absolutely sure it’s the right thing and the safe thing to do.”

Director of Resident Dining Sharon Carey said she was alarmed by the alert because of the lack of information during the beginning of the incident.

“What we were worried about is what would be the next step for the resident hall students, to make sure they were going to be taken care of with food and things,” Carey said.

Carey said the students in the Den handled the situation well and did what was requested of them.

“The students that were here seemed calm and were willing to do what needed to be done,” Carey said. “They were following all the directions that we were getting from the vice president as well as our director of dining services.”

Students who wanted to leave the Den once the alert was given were able to do so, but were encouraged to stay put.

“We felt it would be better for them to be with us in the building than to be going across campus,” Carey said.

NMU student and Den Employee Caeleigh Girard was one of the people working at the time, but felt secure in the area she was in.

“I got the text message and then I told the cook. We didn’t really know what was going on until the news,” Girard said. “I didn’t feel too worried. I’m in a safe place.”

Sophomore Jackie Wiles was in her dorm room in Spalding Hall when the alert went out. Because of the snow the Lower Peninsula had been receiving, she originally thought the alert was simply about the weather, but soon realized it was far more serious.

“I got on Facebook and everyone was saying, ‘there’s a person with a gun on campus,’ ‘somebody’s going to shoot out the academic mall,’ and it was just really confusing at first because Facebook was loaded with different rumors,” Wiles said.

According to Wiles, once the alert proved to be genuine, the lockdown went into effect at 8 a.m. and stayed until around 2 p.m. before they were released to the MP  to get food.

“Everyone in the MP was really on edge and looking to get out of the MP fast, but then again some were very calm,” Wiles said.

Although NMU has stated that classes will resume today, Wiles said she still feels concerned about her safety on campus.

“I’m not sure if the shooter or person who sent out this threat has been caught yet, but if they haven’t been, it’s possible they could shoot out tomorrow,” Wiles said. “If it’s a student, they’ll know that everyone is going to class.”

Wiles said that while she only has one class tomorrow she will probably take the day off.