Brandon Ellis, the president of the student union at Cape Breton University, feels fortunate that nothing happened during a recent lockdown.
“I think this is a wakeup call,” said Ellis. “We need to address the shortcomings, but also recognize what we did well. But I do agree this could have been very catastrophic.”
Ellis says school security received notice of a threat around 10 a.m. Thursday morning.
Police arriving shortly after, but it was nearly lunchtime before the campus was evacuated.
Ellis says students were getting mixed messages as to what was happening.
“Some professors were confused on what to do, weren't sure if it was a drill or not,” he said. “They kept teaching class, some didn't know how to lock the door or did not have the means to lock the door. Students didn't know if they should flea the building or stay in the classrooms.”
Students received an email or text message informing them the university received an anonymous threat to secure doors and that emergency personnel were responding.
“The fear factor was definitely there, but I was in good hands,” said student Esraa Mostafa. “All the staff were helping the students, evacuating, everything was cancelled. The top priority was student safety.”
Officials admit there may have been some confusion among staff and students. They say a committee is being put together to look at ways to improve and learn from this situation.
Ellis says something needs to change quickly, and the student union will bring their concerns to the university in the coming days.
“I do think it would not hurt to go over some protocol with students and facility on what we do in the event of a lockdown,” said Ellis. “In my time (at CBU), I’ve never participated in a lockdown or drill.”
The threat came from the social media application Yik Yak, but there was no evidence of a weapon.
Cape Breton Regional Police say the investigation is still ongoing.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.