Two days after being forced to take cover under tables and desks in response to threatening phone calls to the school, Utica College students are gathering Wednesday night in a forum that they control, to discuss Monday's frightening lockdown and to move forward, together.
"Ok, some of us are still recovering; you need to take time, focus on your mental health, focus on your own security and safety. But those of us who are ready to try and help the community move forward, let's get together and talk about what it is we can do," said first-year student, Peter Gaughan. Gaughan is among students who sent emails and flyers, inviting other students, faculty and administration-including College President Laura Casamento-to take part in a gathering Wednesday night.
"What are things we can do better in the future? Can be something as small as maybe more food in the athletic center for students and maybe more dramatic things. We'll talk about that as a community," said Gaughan. Other shows of unity are planned. Students on Thursday will wear UC gear and ribbons that say, "UC us together". Thursday night, they plan to gather to do things like play video games, board games and destress before spring break.
Gaughan, like his classmates, learned that there were additional threats to the school on Tuesday when they saw it in news reports. He says that, initially, this upset him.
"I was upset and other people were upset just because the thought that we were walking around campus and classes and stuff on tuesday not knowing that was happening but retrospectively, i understand why that decision was made," said Gaughan, adding that he felt differently once he had time to process everything.
"Going into another lockdown especially right after that would cause extreme stress and resources and I understand all of that so I appreciate the apprehension of law enforcement and administration to put us on lockdown and I think in the long run they probably made the right decision."
College officials say President Casamento does plan on attending Wednesday nights' gathering.