Monday, October 08, 2001

Attack On America Puts Pitt On Defensive

SGB President Jeff Alex was protected by campus police last month when the nation was at a heightened state of security following terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC. He was taken to a secret chamber below Eddies in the Lichtfield Towers where a G-4 Macintosh computer allowed Alex to run the Student Government. Alex remained in the secret shelter for approximately 24 hours until the nation eased up its security alert.

“Our first priority when we heard of the attack was to find Alex and make sure he was all right,” Pitt Police Chief Tim Delaney said. “We found him in his Political Rhetoric class in the Cathedral [of Learning] at approximately 10:11 a.m. and immediately whisked him to safety through an underground tunnel system the university installed in case of such an emergency. It was an intelligence decision based on unconfirmed reports that the William Pitt Union was a target for the attacks.”

The university’s buildings were unharmed in the attack. Emergency officials prepared for the worst, but were relieved that the university was unscathed by the offensive.

“If the Union was attacked, the results would have been disastrous. Think of the chaos and the turmoil. Every club would have been instantaneously ruined. The Pitt Program Council alone would have taken months, maybe even a year, to recover. Valuable recreation areas with pool tables, video games and ping pong tables, not to mention juke boxes, would have been destroyed. I don't know if the social aspects of the university could ever recover from such a large scale affront. You can prepare for something like that, but are you ever really ready?” Delaney pondered.

SGB president Jeff Alex seemed a little more optimistic about the possibility. “Sure, an attack on the Union would have been disastrous, but we were, and remain, prepared. The G-4 underneath Eddie’s was equipped with records, schedules, and all sorts of financial data. Maybe the [Pitt Program] Council wouldn't have been able to show Dr. Doolittle in the Union, but you better believe we had contingency plans for alternate venues. And maybe the Medieval Interest Club wouldn’t have been able to meet in 511 WPU, but you can believe that I wouldn't rest until I found them a suitable meeting room. This administration is prepared for any emergency and is ready to handle anything and everything that comes its way.”

The Student Government Board and Pitt Police have been acting in conjunction to prepare security and precautions to secure the Union in case of an attack. Emergency plans allocated $700,000 for the Union to have around the clock roving security, newly installed surveillance cameras, and barbed wire around the perimeters.

“As long as I'm president," Alex declared, "this university is in safe hands.”

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