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Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press, Published March 01 2012

Bomb Threat: Prank scare yet another trauma for troubled Dickinson State University

Dickinson State University was back to business and students even playfully tossed a few snowballs at each other about two hours after halls were evacuated Wednesday morning because a bomb threat was called in.

A person with an unidentified number called an employee of the Alumni Foundation reporting they had placed bombs in multiple buildings, according to a Dickinson Police Department press release. The caller also gave a specific time of detonation.

DSU juniors Mamie Kieson and Tori Sanford said they were asked to leave campus or go to the Student Center. They chose to leave the main campus.

“It was pretty calm, but everyone cleared out pretty fast,” Kieson said

Amy Magstadt, DSU public relations manager, said the upper level of the Student Center was full of students.

“People, for the most part, seemed not relaxed, but just observant,” Magstadt said. “There were lots of them, but there weren’t any kind of hysterics.”

Sgt. Gary Kuhn was on the scene and said nobody was being allowed to enter the campus because it was too dangerous. However, several students walked around campus while officers directed traffic away.

“I would say students were in here approximately 20 minutes before they started to stray,” Magstadt said of the Student Center. “They were urged to stay in the building, but the entrances were still open. They were told they could not be in Stickney, Klinefelter or May halls.”

Those buildings were targeted in the threat and evacuated, she added.

DPD Capt. Joe Cianni said those who left the Student Center did so after the times specified in the threat.

“Actually DSU administration, seeing that the students as they were filing into the area, were getting crowded, they decided to release them to their dorm rooms,” Cianni said. “That wasn’t directed by law enforcement.”

Officers did a “systematic search of the campus buildings in question,” but found nothing out of the ordinary, according to the release.

“We searched only the ones that were threatened and those that could be associated with those,” Cianni said.

Messages via Notifind, which sends out an email, text message and phone call, were issued to students, faculty and staff, she added.

Midterms are this week as well, officials said.

[b]A troubling school year[/b]

DSU has seen its share of trouble in the past few months.

Former DSU president Richard McCallum was fired in the fall after audits made several allegations, including inflating enrollment numbers.

Details of another audit report, which found DSU had awarded hundreds of degrees to foreign students who didn’t earn them, signed up students who couldn’t speak English and enrolled a handful without qualifying grades, were made public Feb. 10.

That same day, Doug LaPlante, 58, DSU dean of the college of education, business and applied sciences, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in Dickinson’s Memorial Park, according to DPD. He had been with the university since 1991.

“It’s just kind of like, ‘Wow, again?’” Kieson said of Wednesday’s threat. “It was a little less serious this time, I guess.”

She and Sanford said they’re growing tired of the drama on campus.

“I don’t mind having classes canceled,” Sanford said with a laugh.

Classes resumed at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

DSU senior Ryan Kittleson said the bomb threat was a “big shock.”

“It’s crazy,” he said. “It’s just been one thing after another.”

Hal Haynes, DSU vice president of student development, said it’s been 20 years since the university has had a bomb threat.

“I hope we never have to go through that again,” he added.

The Student Center and Wienbergen Hall are points of assembly during emergencies, Haynes said.

“You have to act immediately,” he said of Wednesday’s threat. “You have to go with your best instinct.”

Several area agencies had personnel on scene.

“Under North Dakota law, a bomb threat would constitute the offense of terrorizing, which is a Class C felony, punishable by a maximum 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both,” Jim Hope, assistant Stark County state’s attorney, stated in a press release.

No arrests had been made and police had no suspects Wednesday afternoon, Cianni said.

Jennifer McBride and April Baumgarten contributed to this story.