BECA classes cancelled, offices closed after safety scare

Several broadcast and electronic communication arts classes were cancelled and the department office was closed after a student was seen with a weapon in the Creative Arts building Tuesday between 2:10 p.m. and 4:55 p.m., according to a report taken by the University Police Department.

The weapon is described as a handgun and it is has not been verified if it was real or fake.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, department chair Scott Patterson entered professor Betsy Blosser’s broadcast and electronic communication art class, and asked to speak with her outside of the classroom. Upon returning she notified the class in Burk Hall 266 that she would be canceling class and advised students to leave campus immediately.

Blosser reassured her students that the situation did not concern the student population as a whole.

“We’re probably overreacting,” Blosser said. “This is an issue in BECA only.”

This morning a sign reading “BECA office is closed until further notice” was still taped to the office door.

University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin noted that University police had been notified of a disciplinary issue involving a student earlier in the day, but could not yet confirm that the two incidents were related.

“University received reports of an unsafe student who was escorted to student discipline,” said Griffin. “UPD does not believe there is a danger to anyone in the campus community. If they did feel there was they would communicate and take charge of the situation.”

The broadcast and electronic communication arts office manager declined to comment on the situation and Patterson is unavailable for comment. University Police have also declined to comment.

Update 2:50 p.m.: According to University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin, the information in the police report was gathered from an anonymous caller.

“It was determined there was no thereat to the campus community and if there was they would have taken appropriate steps,” Griffin said.

Update 6:00 p.m.: Paul Sherwin, dean of the College of Liberal and Creative Arts, sent an email to the department clarifying yesterday’s incident involving a student with a possible weapon in the Creative Arts building.

“From what I can gather, a student brought a prop he thought he was supposed to bring to a class, was told he had not needed to bring it to class, and he promptly returned it to his backpack. Some unidentified someone reported to the University Police Department that a student had or was brandishing a firearm,” said Sherwin.

Sherwin also explained in his email that UPD detained the student on his way to his next class. It was determined that the student and his non-working bb-style air pistol did not present any risk to the campus community.

The student was temporarily suspended and is expected to return to school Thursday, after he meets with Donna Cunningham, University Coordinator of Student Conduct.