Board Editorial: A letter to the bomb-threat sender

To the person who sent the bomb threat:
In officially declaring your April 1 threat on Hunter Conservatory a hoax, Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland called it terribly inappropriate.   He couldn’t have been more right.   While we can speculate what your motivations might have been: perhaps you were bored and thought it would be funny or maybe you had a personal vendetta against Hunter, or the administration: such speculations are irrelevant.   The threat was made, the day has safely passed. While many Whitties, and perhaps even you, think that the threat was a silly, harmless prank, we assure you that it was not.   Here is a list of things you probably didn’t realize before you pushed send on that e-mail:

1. It would be a huge waste of police resources.   Five police cars, one fire truck and all available personnel were redirected to Hunter at 6:30 p.m. on April 1 to cordon off the area and deal with any potential disasters.   The police were forced to leave the site of a 13-year-olds’ suicide to come deal with your prank, because Whitman is the largest residence in Walla Walla and so takes precedence over other emergency calls.   That tragedy was marginalized because of you.

2. It would disrupt events and classes.   Aside from the headache of evacuating all classes, faculty and personnel from the building, there were other planned events to occur in Kimball that had to be cancelled. English professor Jean Carwile-Masteller was due to give a presentation on the poetry of Emily Dickinson to fellow faculty members at noon. She spent much of the two-week Spring Break planning her presentation and eagerly anticipating the chance to share her work, and had risen at 6:30 a.m. on the scheduled day to make sure everything was in order. After being informed of the threat, another suitable venue could not be found in time due to special features of her presentation: a PowerPoint presentation, a Grand Piano, four musicians, and other technology. Carwile-Masteller, who has been battling breast cancer since before the beginning of the academic year, said that many of her colleagues and friends were instantly worried when they learned the forum had been cancelled, assuming that a health emergency or setback may have been the cause. She now faces the daunting task of trying to reorganize her presentation.

3. It would make the entire community uneasy.     Bomb threats have never been excusable, but especially in a post 9/11 world, it has become even clearer that threats like these cannot be taken lightly. In a recent poll conducted by The Pioneer, not one of the 100 Whitman community members who responded said that they considered the threat funny, and several said it scared them, despite your ‘April Fool’s Day’ reference.   On a campus that has already experienced serious security setbacks: including assaults and thefts: your threat has only further violated the Whitman community’s sense of security.

Your prank incited only the annoyance and fear of the campus population, not its laughter.
A week has passed, and this incident may already be dimming in the memories of some students or community members: as it probably has in yours. But for the people whose lives you affected on a personal level, it hasn’t. If you are capable of recognizing the errors in your judgment, you should come forward and apologize to the Whitman community.     More importantly, you should apologize to the individuals whose time, senses of security, and personal crises your prank undermined.