Stepped-up security greets returning students

Most GW students are taking in stride the possibility of living blocks away from potential terrorist targets. While security has been stepped up at federal buildings and monuments in recent days, students continue to move into residence halls and attend orientation sessions without much thought to concrete blockades and Secret Service patrols nearby.

“There are so many things on the horizon,” said Elliott School of International Affairs undergraduate adviser Mary Delacluyse. “Security is just not an issue for students right now.”

The security alert came in response to President Clinton’s decision to bomb suspected terrorist sites in Afghanistan and Sudan Thursday.

Several GW students said they are confident in the security provided by University and D.C. law enforcement officers.

“There is hard-core security at GW and the outlying areas,” said freshman Leah Fisher. “But a cop standing at a corner isn’t going to do much if someone wants to bomb us.”

“There is a lot of security at GW,” said freshman Jenna Barr. “It’s as good as it can get, so it won’t be for a lack of security if something happens.”

For GW veterans familiar with presidential motorcades rolling through campus, the beefed-up security is simply another environmental hazard.

“I’m just excited to be back in school,” said sophomore Mamta Jain. “I’m not really worried about my safety.”

But for students who rely on the Metro system for transportation, the threat of a terrorist bombing is a sobering reality.

“There were cops at the gates of the Metro,” said GW student Nick Shah. “I’ve been going here for three years and I’ve never seen something like that. The cops are just waiting for something to happen.”

“I’m a little concerned for safety on the Metro because I live in Virginia,” said junior Paul Prados. “I don’t know if anything is likely to happen, but commentators on the news are saying they expect something to happen. It’s not encouraging.”

But some parents were unprepared for the unconventional security risks associated with a school three blocks from the State Department and five blocks from the White House.

“I never thought that when my daughter applied to GW that terrorism would be a concern on my mind,” said GW parent Cissy Condict. “I thought maybe date rape would be more of an issue than terrorism.”

With books to buy and residence halls rooms to settle into, getting ready for the new semester was a more pressing concern than a terrorist reprisal.

Fisher said, “It’s just part of the territory.”

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