Students, staff, faculty and guests filed out of Royal Brougham Pavilion on Saturday evening after the university sent out texts, e-mail messages and phone calls, from the Seattle Pacific University Alert system to notify individuals of a threat on campus.
At around 7:00 p.m. reports from the alert system were sent out to notify students that the university was going into a lockdown, and shortly after, the Office of Safety and Security began evacuating highly occupied buildings in response to a bomb threat.
Gwinn Commons and Royal Brougham Pavilion were evacuated, causing the cancellation of the SPU MODE Fashion Show held in Royal Brougham. As a result, the fashion show will is now rescheduled for June 6.
The initial alert explained that the precautionary lockdown was “due to the report of [an] armed person near campus,” and a second notification sent about five minutes later explained that the lockdown was initiated because of a bomb threat received by OSS over the phone.
The caller told OSS that bombs were placed around various buildings on campus. Safety and Security immediately informed the Seattle Police Department of the threat.
OSS worked along with the Seattle police to investigate the threatened buildings and evacuated Gwinn Commons and Royal Brougham Pavilion to ensure campus safety.
Director of Safety and Security Mark Reid explained that dorms were not evacuated because they were not threatened.
“We had no reason to be concerned for the residence halls,” Reid said.
Reid noted that safety is of high importance for the university, stating that “we were trying to make sure that people were as safe as they could be.”
The threat is serious and an ongoing crime case, Reid mentioned.
“This has become very much a law enforcement matter … this is a very serious crime,” Reid said, noting the case will take time to solve.
“We hope that the police have a lot of success with this,” Reid said in hopes that the police will arrest the caller.
Freshman Jana Williams was on the first floor of Ames Library when the university went into a lockdown. Those on the first floor were instructed to hide behind the library staff desks, and later the 14 students on the floor were later directed into a closet as a further safety precaution. She believes that the lockdown procedure that SPU implemented was safe.
“For that situation, I think that that was probably the safest thing to do,” Jana Williams said. “No one really panicked, everyone remained pretty calm. We were concerned, but we didn’t feel that we were in any direct danger.”
Throughout the lockdown she was able to communicate with her friends in the dorms to confirm that they were safe as well, Jana Williams said.
When the lockdown was lifted and she was able to leave the library, she said that she felt secure knowing that the Seattle Police Department and Safety and Security were continuing to monitor the campus.
“I didn’t have any worries about leaving the library,” Jana Williams said.
Reid recommends that students ensure that they have signed up for SPU alerts on Banner to set up their cellphones to receive phone calls and text messages regarding campus alerts, or sign up if they have not done so already.
Reid expressed sympathy for the cancellation of the fashion show, and MODE announced on Facebook that the rescheduled show will take place on June 6 from 6:30 to 8:00 in Royal Brougham.
The event was set to begin at 7:30 on Saturday, but was precluded by the lockdown, causing attendees to follow lockdown procedures and then evacuate. Individuals evacuating from Royal Brougham were advised to leave campus.
Junior and fashion merchandising major Brynn Williams was one of four officers who helped plan the fashion show and was sad that the show had to be cancelled, but is optimistic about the rescheduled event.
“Honestly, we were all very defeated at first,” Brynn Williams said in an e-mail response. “It felt like we put in all that hard work for nothing. But, that Monday morning, the officers sat down with the professors and we came to the conclusion that we didn’t have a choice but to put on another show. If we were able to plan the first fashion show, we could do it again.
The designers have been working hard, Brynn Williams said, explaining that the show allows them to display their skills.
“As one of the four officers that planned the fashion show, we have spent the whole year working extremely hard to make the show happen,” Brynn Williams said. “It was heartbreaking to have the event cancelled, especially under the circumstances. We have already seen blessings coming our way as we regroup to re-host the fashion show.”
As a result, the group of students has been invited to be appear on KING 5’s New Day Northwest, which will air Wednesday, May 25, at 11 a.m.
“We have been invited by KING 5’s New Day Northwest to be interviewed about our fashion event and show some designs,” Brynn Williams said.
While Brynn Williams and the other officers are still planning the event, they are expecting a higher attendance rate than Saturday’s event, and are thankful for the help they have received financially to organize the event again.
“We have received a lot of different offers to help cut costs, which we are very thankful for,” Brynn Williams said. “We have been working with David Bailey who is in charge of Seattle Fashion Week, whose been a big help in connecting us with people who want to help. We feel really fortunate that we have sponsors … alumni and community members who are willing and able to help us make the show happen again.”
According to Brynn Williams, the university and community have been able to continue supporting the event.
It has been really cool to see the support from the school and the community around us,” Brynn Williams said. “The fashion program at our school is small, and often times overlooked by the larger majors. As our title of the fashion show suggests (Forces of Fashion) we really do believe that we are a force to reckon with. With the rescheduled [show], we now have the ability to make the show bigger and better than ever and we are really excited to finally make it happen.”