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BU Student Government calls for administration response, protocol following ‘hoax’ calls

StuGov endorsed an open letter requesting updated emergency protocols for all buildings on campus and an understanding of lockdown and shelter-in-place procedures following hoax swatting calls that reported an active shooter on campus.

Monday’s Student Government meeting
Monday’s Student Government meeting. StuGov endorsed a letter calling for updated emergency protocols following several false active shooter calls. ELOISE MARSEILLE/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

President Dhruv Kapadia began the meeting with an acknowledgement of the previous night’s events.

“This was an incredibly difficult and unfortunate experience that all 17,000 undergrads here at BU had to experience, and I think BU did not handle it in the greatest of ways,” he said.

Kapadia shared that BU’s Board of Trustees did not follow recommendations from student activists to divest from civilian firearm manufacturers.

The meeting continued with an amendment to the Senate bylaws to clarify endorsement definitions, but returned to the topic of the swatting calls and BU’s lack of protocol for lockdown and shelter-in-place situations.

“After last night, I feel like we’ve all been hearing stories of students who were in open spaces, public spaces on campus and were confused with what to do,” Shana Weitzen, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Science and one of the students who brought the open letter to StuGov, said. “There wasn’t really a clear start and end to what we would think of as a shelter in place. We weren’t sure what facilities were on lockdown and what weren’t.”

The open letter calls for clarification in emergency protocols for each building and clear communication of which areas of campus are in lockdown, as well as clear beginnings and endings to shelter-in-place procedure.

Different areas of campus faced different levels of restriction. Weitzen described an intense lockdown at Marciano Dining Hall and the George Sherman Union, while another senator shared the ease in which people could enter the law building.

This lack of clarity also impacted student workers, many of whom were working at the time and unclear as to whether or not their job should take priority over an implied shelter-in-place.

Senator Jessica Sullivan told StuGov that she still had to go to her job at Scarlet Safewalk near where one of the active shooter sightings happened.

“At the end of the day, student workers were at a point where they should do their job or barricade themselves,” she said.

The letter also calls for a response from the university, who has not released any communication to students about the “hoax” calls since the last BU Alert.

“Students are expected to attend class like nothing happened last night, and professors are supposed to lecture like normal,” the open letter states. “The University is silent and that silence has made it clear to us as students that our safety and well being is not the priority.”

The open letter was endorsed with 35 votes.

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One Comment

  1. Alessandra Kellermann of BU Parents United

    The evening of the hoax – I was inundated with calls, texts, frantic parents who reflected exactly what is being shared above and it was dismaying. I am a crisis counselor and run our BU Parent group but this was non-stop and frightening until I was able to reach the Boston police who were exceptional but explained they could not speak for BU PD and officials who were not communicating yet that it was just a hoax.

    For years we have asked BU to make the wellbeing and that includes Emotional Safety as well as physical safety of terriers a priority. The silence has been deafening.
    This evening, despite the recent actual shootings at MSU where many lessons could have been learned had they paid attention, nothing seemed to be handled smoothly. The alerts alone were delayed and confusing. I called three different 1st stesponder areas and all seemed confused at how things were being handled by BU PD and campus officials. They seems perplexed it the lockdown had not been lifted and connected me directly with BU PD officials . That is when I realized how overwhelmed and frustrated they were too imanagung countless 911 calls from students and telling me “ we are trying to get the message ti then that this is a hoax but have not been able to yet . “ I responded they had to do an immediately as rumors were flying and students were confused and parents all over the nation were more than alarmed . I hung up so as not to clog any lines and shortly thereafter – there was an alert finally reassuring terriers.
    But lockdown still was not lifted and not all terriers received the message.
    Thus just like at MSU , it was not until the wee hours of Monday morning that every terrier finally left their hiding and shelter in place position .
    What was even more disconcerting and upsetting is that NO emotional supports were offered or any mental health guidance emailed or texted to terriers afterwards. Plenty of terriers have been traumatized some with already fears of mass shootings based on the many we have tragically in this country, some due to the poor communication that evening, some who already had underlying stressors and this just triggered more . In our group of thousands of parents we shared the 988 number and guidance of self-care and support after an event like this for parents to
    then pass on to terriers. I spent most of the night helping ease fears and deescalating some of the trauma felt by terriers – and not even in the morning was anything posted . Deafening silence no doubt because BU Giving Day was the next day and it seems as much as I love BU for some many reasons and how it leads the world in so many subjects, here it failed again to prioritize the wellbeing of our amazing students over the bottom dollar and their “ image “ .
    Until transparency is valued at BU and that starts at the top and with spin doctors like aColin Riley, until the wellbeing of our students receives real investment of monies, action and time / these traumatic poor responses will continue .
    The BU community deserves better and we are so proud of this statement filed in protest by students even though they have been wary to speak up in the past since their funding for student government is tied to admin.
    Bravo ! Silence only enables the problems to continue . We are grateful for our 1st responders who were not the issue here.
    The problem is this old way of handling anything that may even be seen as negative or turbulent and sweeping it under the rug whether it was the suicide of students like Georgia Dray or a SWAT call that caused panic and trauma to campus but could have been alleviated with proper timely communication and immediate supports offered several times after the incident and days after.
    When the day was almost done on Monday – after parents and students emailed and called admin to express their frustrations , finally a boost appeared on Facebook Student Health Services with guidance on how to deal with uncomfortable feelings and lingering fears after this event and listing crisis numbers at BU.
    Too little too late.

    One last note – BU PD and all available staff should have gone room to room, building to building , seeking any students who were still sheltering in place -because they were unaware the lockdown was lifted or unsure if it was truly safe to come out due to all the other posts and rumors that flew around. This is what was learned at MSU when it was not a hoax and there has been plenty of time since to learn those valuable lessons.

    It’s past time now President Brown and admin.
    Make well-being a real priority and take money and hire more counselors, have better protocols in place for these events hopefully not repeating again but certainly a good chance with current mental health crisis and swat calls and guns in this country. Revamp programs, start doing prevention and POSTVENTION for real and listen to your students – we have been helping advocate but we have not been heard as nothing has changed for the better YET except we do finally have a mental health director after 8 months or none .

    Mental Health = Physical Health = Academic Success

    Already this has been proven in lower grades where SEL has been introduced and it’s time to listen to your own experts at BUSPH and make some real changes so students FEEL SAFE EMOTIONALLY and PHYSICALLY.

    Apologies for the length – and any typos.