WEB EXCLUSIVE: GW reacts to attacks

Posted 6:35 p.m. Sept. 11-GW cancelled classes and took safety precautions against bomb threats Tuesday after reported terrorist attacks at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and the World Trade Center in New York City.

Two questionable packages suspected to be bombs arrived at the Marvin Center and caused an emergency evacuation at about 10:30 a.m., said Dolores Stafford, director of University Police. They were not bombs, and students were let back in, she said.

A bomb threat was also reported in Ross Hall at 11:30 a.m., said Barbara Porter, communications director of the GW Medical Center. The building was also evacuated and police swept the area, but did not find anything, she said.

Students unaware of the attacks or uninformed of GW’s reaction filed back from cancelled classes to their residence halls. Phone lines jammed and cell phones failed, preventing students and parents from reaching each other, while students waited in residence hall rooms watching the tragedies unfold on television.

Other students were evacuated from residence halls including the Aston, Crawford and Riverside. The Aston was cleared of students as a result of a bomb threat at the Wyndham hotel next door, Stafford said.

Riverside Hall and some floors of Crawford Hall were evacuated by Community Facilitators, said Mike Freedman, vice president of communications. It was not an official GW order, and CFs decided to evacuate to be cautious, he said.

Freedman said University officials talked about evacuating residence halls but didn’t think it was necessary and may have frightened students.

On the streets, small crowds gathered around cars to hear radios blasting the latest news. The streets eventually cleared and Kogan Plaza was empty by 11:40 a.m.

As of 6:30 p.m., GW decided to hold classes tomorrow.

“You look around the GW campus and there’s no reason not to hold classes,” Freedman said.

“This is not just the University’s problem,” he said. “We’re taking appropriate precautions. It’s a very scary situation. This may be the single worst day in the U.S. since in Pearl Harbor.”

Stafford said UPD has increased security including more patrols and officers on bicycles around campus. UPD officers and staff were checking GWorld cards outside the Marvin and Academic centers.

Students who need counseling can go to rooms 411, 413 and 414 in the Marvin Center, said Gretchen King, director of Media Relations.

Student Association President Roger Kapoor was walking around talking to students to address their concerns, he said. UPD was looking for suspicious-looking cars and CFs were checking rooms, Kapoor said.

Freedman said they are better equipped to deal with the attacks as a result of the plans for the upcoming protests at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

“(There are) grave concerns for future terrorist attacks,” Freedman said. “In many ways it’s been our worst case scenario.”

The GW Hospital cared for two victims of the Pentagon attack who are in stable condition and paramedics were still on the scene, Porter said. About 30 to 50 people are in Virginia hospitals, she said. Most people are not at GW Hospital because of problems getting over Memorial Bridge.

People who want to donate blood can call 1-800-BLOODSAVES.

“The best things as of now are if you’re religious to pray or to maintain a sense of calm, and to take every precaution,” Freedman said.

-Mira Katz contributed to this report.

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