‘Something could happen to us’: Students slam WSU response after killings in neighboring University of Idaho

The killer of the four University of Idaho students is still at large

‘Something could happen to us’: Students slam WSU response after killings in neighboring University of Idaho
The killings of four University of Idaho students have left many students at neighboring Washington State University worried for their safety (WSU/@xanakernodle/Instagram)
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PULLMAN, WASHINGTON: Four University of Idaho students were discovered dead in an off-campus accommodation on Sunday, November 13. The incident has left the neighboring Washington State University students worried and concerned for their safety. Many students are frustrated with the WSU administration’s response following the killings of Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, since the killer is still on the loose.

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The four killings were ruled out as homicides by the Latah County coroner on Thursday, November 17, as per The Spokesman Review. The killer is presumed to have used a big knife of some kind. The county sheriff, state police, and FBI are currently involved in the hunt.

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Many students have opted to leave school early because both institutions' autumn breaks are set to begin immediately after lessons on Friday. As the Palouse community continues to deal with the tragedy, some of the students who are still enrolled are unhappy with what they perceive to be a lack of communication and flexibility from university administrators.

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Jacob Martinez, president of the Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWU), questioned why it took the Pullman campus so long to inform students of the attack. ASWSU posted a statement on the student government's social media platforms expressing condolences and providing support to students almost a full day before Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton addressed the attack in a campuswide, email Monday evening. "We wanted to put something out as fast as we could and make sure that students had these resources," Martinez said. "We want to make sure students are safe and that they know we are here to support them. Like a lot of people, I was hoping to hear from the school as fast as possible, but they took a bit."

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In the days following the incident, Moscow Police Chief James Fry assured the public that there was no threat to the public, but he later withdrew that statement during a news conference, as per NY Post. Although police believe it was a targeted attack, Fry said "the reality is, there still is a person out there who committed four very horrible, horrible crimes." Martinez claimed that he had spoken to a number of kids who were worried about their safety and seeking answers. "I know a lot of students are worried," Martinez said. "They put out something saying that it was a targeted attack and that we shouldn’t be worried, but that seems wrong. All I can say is, I hope that students take as many safety precautions as necessary."

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UI authorities had urged students to leave early if necessary after cancelling classes on Monday. Meanwhile, just 9 miles down the road, WSU has made no public remarks offering similar accommodations to students as of Thursday evening. WSU senior Clany Wauran emphasized how closely interwoven the two campus communities are, being less than 10 miles apart, and expressed her frustration that students were expected to carry on as usual after learning of the attack. She claimed that several female students had visited the women's center at the university this week, and numerous students had mentioned feeling scared, apprehensive, and unable to concentrate on their school work. "A lot of my friends are scared just because they’re like, 'Oh my gosh, something could happen to us," Wauran said. "I live with five other girls in a house, just like the girls who were attacked. I feel like there’s this darkness just hanging over the area right now. You can just feel this general sense of unease and anxiety everywhere you go. This week has been really weird trying to go to class when it’s all anyone is thinking or talking about," she added. 

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Meanwhile, WSU spokesman Phil Weiler said that canceling classes was never part of the discussion for Washington University officials because the attack "didn’t have the same impact to Washington State University that it did to the University of Idaho." "It’s an issue that was very close by and was, I think, really disturbing for everybody in the region," Weiler said. "But it wasn’t something that we thought we needed to cancel class for." 

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