The bomb threat last Monday at Hutchinson Community College was a stressful situation for most. Part of the reason it was so stressful was the poor communication and lack of information.

Students and faculty didn’t receive warnings in a timely manner. Messages about the situation were being received out of order and long overdue, causing confusion and heightening fear. People had to rely on each other and compare information to have an idea of what was happening.

Warnings sent out about inclement weather were far more timely. While it’s good that there are alerts set up for both, it’s concerning that alerts for bomb threats on campus are so unreliable. How are traveling students supposed to know what’s happening if they don’t get a timely alert? Are they supposed to unknowingly drive into a dangerous situation?

Alerts for potentially life-threatening situations need to be accurate. There’s no room for error when people’s lives are at risk. It’s good that this threat was nothing because if it hadn’t been, there’s no telling what could’ve happened.

Here’s the good from this situation: now we know. Clearly, there’s something wrong with a system critical to student, faculty and staff safety. Now, the system is being fixed and lives don’t have to be at risk like that again.

Further, there was a lack of information. People weren’t told until after the fact that there was also an active shooter threat. Knowing that helps the shelter-in-place order make sense, but that wasn’t known at the time. People were asking why they were being told to shelter in a building that might explode.

There’s also an issue when students don’t know the procedures for this kind of situation. Things like a fire and tornado are obvious: either leave the building or go somewhere safe in the building. These things are made clear. But there didn’t seem to be a procedure for handling a bomb threat or something of that nature.

The intent here isn’t to lay blame on anyone. That does nothing. However, there were problems with how the situation was handled and it’s fair to point those out. It’s good that something is being done to fix the problem. 

As many have said, it’s not if something tragic will happen here, it’s when. But when that happens, hopefully Hutchinson Community College will have learned from this experience and be prepared.

From the Collegian Editorial Board.

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