SUNY Oneonta's Student Association will host an open dialog forum Thursday regarding the Oct. 2 active shooter threat on the college's campus.

An investigation determined the threat did not originate in Oneonta and was not made by a student at the college, according to police.

The forum is intended to be a space for faculty, staff and students to discuss what happened and why it happened the way it did, said Student Association President Timothy Nolan. The discussion will allow students to ask questions and provide feedback that will "help us move on and better prepare for an event of this nature as a community," according to a Student Association email about the forum shared with The Daily Star on Tuesday. 

“Some questions are still up in the air about what happened, and hopefully we can provide a space where students can ask questions and get valuable feedback,” Nolan said. “It will hopefully be a very productive place with no finger-pointing and no arguing.”

Nolan said the forum may begin with someone explaining in detail what happened on Oct. 2 and then opening the floor for discussion.

Members of the college administration and the University Police Department chief will be in attendance, Nolan said. The chairs of academic departments and college offices have been asked to invite their faculty and staff.

Nolan said he anticipates clarification will be provided regarding the timeline of the event. He said he expects people will be asking how the college can better prepare itself for these situations and why it wasn't better prepared before.

Nolan said he was off campus at the time of the incident so his experience was different than many other students. He said he couldn't fully gauge how difficult it was for some people until he talked to a room full of students who were on campus when it happened.

"My account of the situation was really different than someone who was on campus," he said. "I've sat in a couple of spaces where people were sharing their experiences. A lot of it really comes down to communication with how the warning was distributed and how everyone's energy fed off each other."

Chrystal Savage, a fourth-year SUNY Oneonta student, launched a petition the day after the shooting threat urging administrators to require active-shooter training and install locks on every classroom door.

In the petition, which now has 6,681 signatures, she wrote that students were denied refuge in cafes and other "so-called ‘safe spaces’" on campus, and others were trapped outside after being let off city transportation on campus.

"Professors were vastly uneducated and under-prepared, and in some instances, even told their students to run," the petition read.

"I'm still personally struggling with what happened Wednesday," Savage said. "I don't feel like the situation has been fully explained to students. Hopefully the administration tells us more of the specifics."

Savage said she believes the forum is a good starting point for students' concerns to be heard. She said although her professors have been sympathetic in light of the incident, not all students have gotten the same empathy from theirs, though students have been very supportive of each  other.  

While no one can change what happened, the campus can apply its understanding of the incident to work toward achieving a better future, she said.

"I hope a lot of people will attend this forum," Savage said "And that we can create change on this campus."

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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