Threat to University Property Pauses Morning Operations


CUC students gather on the football field awaiting updates regarding the campus-wide evacuation on October 19, 2021.

Carter Gledhill, Editor-in-Chief

An emergency situation at Concordia University Chicago on Tuesday morning paused all classes, athletic practices, and all other campus operations.

Students, faculty, and university personnel received an alert at 9:19 a.m. stating, “EMERGENCY! Officers are responding to a problem on the main campus. Calmly evacuate buildings and proceed immediately to the football field/track.”

An email from the Emergency Response Team following the event stated that the university had received an anonymous threat to campus property.

Students and campus community members received the alert through the university’s emergency communication system, called Rave Guardian. The app provides university officials a quick communication method to several forms of messaging, including email and social media.

“I was talking to one of my colleagues, and she got an alert on her phone,” said education and forensics professor James Tallmon. “We immediately rounded up everyone in our area, and proceeded to the football field.”

Word of mouth helped ensure that everyone who didn’t receive the message electronically knew to head to the football field. Sammy Valdez, a junior, was at the baseball field when the alert went out. “I had no idea,” said Valdez. “I was getting my throwing program in with my teammate, and my coach told me to check my phone.”

“Normally, texts like these would say ‘test,’ but I knew it was a big deal when I didn’t see that,” Valdez said.

Other students woke up to a door knock, rather than an alarm clock. “I woke up 20 minutes ago, and don’t know what’s going on,” said senior Howie Hatton. “A lot is going on for sure.”

Upon arrival, many students asked their classmates and friends what was going on. “I’m unaware of what’s happening right now,” said freshman Tyler Dorsch. “I’m confused and concerned because I don’t know what’s going on.”

By 9:40 a.m., clusters of students gathered in circles on the turf or the bleachers, while others stood on the track. At 10:12 a.m., a second message said local authorities had arrived on site, and “to expect another update within 30 minutes.”

A few minutes later, Dean of Students Kathy Gebhardt addressed the crowd over the stadium loudspeakers. Dean Gebhardt reminded everyone to remain calm and on the field as the investigation continued. The all-clear would not be issued for at least another hour, she added. 

After Dean Gebhardt spoke, students found ways to occupy their time during the delay. Some students walked around the track, others played football, and the men’s soccer team played a game of tips.

Members of the STUNT team practiced some of their routine in the end-zone as a way to pass time. “We do find comfort in our teammates, and having fun with each other,” said STUNT team junior Grace Hammill. “We’re trying to bond as a team right now, put aside some of the concern, and have fun right.”

CUC men’s soccer players play a game to pass time.

Professors and other university personnel acknowledged the students’ creativity during an uncertain situation. “I think it’s phenomenal to see our people out here working on their skills and enjoying themselves,” said athletic director Pete Gnan. “It’s like an open gym!”

The all-clear was given at 10:40 a.m., and stated campus operations would return to normal with daily chapel at 11 a.m. 

A final email from the CUC Emergency Response Team at 11:17 a.m. confirmed initial reports of a threat to property, and said that university operations would resume. In addition, the email thanked emergency responders for their diligent work to bring this situation to a successful conclusion. “Everything went really smoothly,” said Dean Gebhardt. “I think we’ve learned from prior incidents that communication is key. We sent out several messages with updates to the campus community, and the police were great partners in this.”

There are no reports of anyone harmed during the situation. Despite the inconvenience, many students and faculty felt that the few minutes outside on a sunny autumn day was a pleasant unintended break during midterm week. “All in all, it was very smooth, and we’re just grateful for the nice weather,” said Dean Gebhardt.