On Tuesday afternoon, Holyoke Community College was evacuated after administrators were notified of a threat made to the campus from an off-campus student. That student was taken into custody by state police and the campus re-opened later that afternoon. But the evacuation process proved challenging for the campus.
Sam Morton, a liberal arts major, says he was walking to the college bus stop on Tuesday when he received an automated call from the school: ” ‘HCC is being evacuated immediately, more information will be up on our site later,’ or something along those lines,” says Morton.
Morton says the call didn’t specify why the campus was being evacuated.
“That increases the mood of panic among everyone, because we have no idea what’s happening.”
He says campus was clogged with traffic as commuters attempted to leave through the school’s limited exits. HCC Spokeswoman Erica Broman says 3,000 people are usually on campus on a typical day and evacuating them takes time. She says that was deemed necessary by the administration.
“I think you can always look back on these things and say ‘I could’ve done something differently,’ ” says Broman. “I think we wanted to be abundantly cautious, and we knew the individual was not on campus, and we thought the best step to take was to get people off campus as quickly as possible.”
Broman says the HCC administration and staff carry out regular drills to prepare for emergencies, and can put a lockdown in place if there is an on-campus threat.