The University evacuated and closed down Tresidder Memorial Union and surrounding buildings Tuesday morning in response to a report of a suspicious backpack found stuffed in a newspaper dispenser between the CoHo and Jamba Juice around 8:55 a.m.
All buildings in the area had been reopened by 1:49 p.m., following the issuance of an “all clear” notification by campus police.
While “officers respond to suspicious packages and abandoned backpacks on campus on a somewhat routine basis,” according to Stanford Police Chief Laura Wilson ‘91, the backpack’s location prompted a more pronounced response.
In addition to the closure of several buildings in the White Plaza area, including Dinkelspiel Auditorium, the Faculty Club and Old Union, the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) advised people in buildings along Salvatierra Walk to shelter in place and called in Santa Clara Country Sheriff’s Office bomb squad officers to investigate further. Members of the Palo Alto Fire Department and the Santa Clara County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team were also called onto the scene.
The campus community was first notified of the incident with an AlertSU at 9:28 a.m. Online updates and further AlertSU notifications followed throughout the morning until a final alert–notifying recipients that police had found no threat–was released at 12:30 p.m.
“I was impressed by the community’s remarkable discipline in staying away from the area,” Wilson told the Stanford News Service.
However, some students reported delays of up to an hour in receiving the emergency notifications. University administrators have previously acknowledged limitations in the AlertSU system’s ability to quickly reach the campus community in its entirety.
SUDPS spokesman Bill Larson noted that detectives are currently analyzing study notes found inside the backpack to determine their owner and better assess why the backpack had been placed in the dispenser originally.
Contact Ileana Najarro at inajarro ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.