Yesterday was a crazy day in Athens, Ohio on the campus of Ohio University. Word came early via text that an armed robber, allegedly carrying a semi-automatic handgun, was on loose after robbing a woman in an apartment building parking lot and heading towards campus. Said robber only made off with $5…not a typo…and by 11:37am the Athens Police Department was no longer searching for their perp. Soon after that, Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi tweeted the students that the University would remain closed the rest of the day.
That’s when Ohio University went into Ohio University Mode.
Not many colleges would take the news of a gunman on the loose as OU did. The bars on their famed Court Street opened up early and the witty students on twitter started the hashtags #FugitiveFest and #GunDayFunDay. I am sure a lot of people reading this are doing one of two things; 1.) Shaking their heads in disbelief that students would throw such caution to the wind to imbibe or 2.) Wishing they were still in college. Bars even rolled out $5 pitcher specials for the occasion with one bar offering free wings and $1 beers, which is enough to get any college student out of their dwelling.
The more responsible students, and I use that term loosely, were at the local fraternities or day drinking at their own houses. However, if you decided to hit Pawpurrs or The C.I. on Court Street there was a dress code sent out via Twitter.
In case you hadn’t made the connection, that was the description of what the gunman was wearing. I can’t imagine that made things easier for the Athens Police Department but, in reality, when have the students ever done that? I am on both sides of this story. On the one hand, I think that it was reckless and dangerous for the bars in Athens to open early and encourage the students to come down and drink. On the other hand, I thought back to my days at Kent State University and wondered what I would have done in the same situation and I know, without a doubt, I would have raged like these Bobcats.
Here is the email that was sent to faculty and staff yesterday. It was sent to me by a staffer who wishes to remain anonymous.
I am sure students and alumni from schools that have had tragedy at the hands of a gunman will find this in bad taste and maybe it was. But the overall feeling on campus was that the gunman was not a threat to students and was not intent on causes harm to innocent people, but rather just trying to flee the police. If this wasn’t the case, then maybe we should be asking why Ohio University didn’t lock down their buildings. After the announcement of the closing of the school, the students were “kicked out of class” as one student told a reporter while walking on campus.
This was the first time Ohio University had closed down due to a non-weather related issue since closing campus in 1970 during the riots at Kent State University.
As an OU alum, and current grad student, I was surprised when OU cancelled classes for the rest of the day. The robbery happened before 10am and they waited till after noon to cancel classes, sending thousands of students out of buildings into the wide open campus. If OU really believed the robber was intent on causing further violence, they would have locked down the campus and not let students in or out of buildings. In all actuality, they gave this person every opportunity to escape and blend into the crowd. OU students did what OU students do: drink. While I didn't party the day away, the robber on the loose didn't stop me from dropping by a local brewery for a beer and lunch before walking home to enjoy the unexpected day off. I don't think anyone was too concerned for their safety in an uptown bar, and I don't really think they needed to be. This wasn't a crime motivated by violence. It was motivated by greed. Students were probably safer in the large crowd uptown than they were alone in their apartment.
As a Bobcat, I am disappointed in the students who used #GunDayFunDay to announce their celebrations. In light of the recent gun violence that has taken the life of many innocent Americans. It was in really poor taste. We are better than that Bobcats! Also, just an FYI, Lucky's tavern offers $5 liquor pitchers ALL DAY, EVERY Wednesday.
There's 20,000+ People in Athens. A single mugging won't effect most of them. And that's what this was, a mugging. It was not some sort of shooting where there was a threat to all students. This fugitive was a thief not a murderer. In my opinion, the university overreacted, not the students.
The robbery was at around 9:40am. Police indicated at 11:37am they were no longer actively looking for the suspect. The University shutdown around noon, well after the incident. So, if police weren't concerned enough to even be searching campus area for the suspect and all of the campus buildings were closed, sounds like Ohio Students made the obvious choice.
@AnotherBobcat I agree, as stated in the second to last paragraph, I think the overall feeling was he wasn't intent on hurting innocent people. With that said though, I think the University was taking a "better safe than sorry" approach and based on what has happened in the recent months with gun violence, I really can't blame them.
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