An open letter to the citizens of Statesboro and Bulloch County:
On Wednesday of this past week, Georgia Southern University experienced a potential hazardous substance threat on our campus. The office of admissions, located in Lewis Hall on Sweetheart Circle, received a package via UPS that, when opened, contained traces of a white powdery substance. The university’s emergency response plan was immediately implemented, and within a matter of minutes, representatives from the local, area, state and federal law enforcement agencies arrived to monitor the situation. I am very happy to report that after authorities in Atlanta tested the powder, no toxic substance was found, and no one was in any physical danger.
For several hours during the day, however, the outcome of this situation was unknown and frightening. I write this letter to recognize the many individuals and agencies for the outstanding job they did throughout the cold, rainy day. Without exception, the professionalism of each official was extraordinary.
As I waited outside Lewis Hall throughout the day, I was impressed by the collegiality and cooperation among the different law enforcement agencies. There were no “territorial” disputes, no power struggles, no dissension at all. It was truly remarkable to witness their interaction and see these professionals do what they have been trained to do in situations such as this.
A cursory tally would indicate that over 20 local, state, and federal agencies were involved. This number does not include the numerous volunteer groups such as the American Red Cross and the CAFÉ Unit of the Statesboro Fire Department. The citizens of Bulloch County can be proud of our law enforcement, fire, and public safety personnel. Without doubt, in times of crises, we are in good hands.
Additionally, I want to thank the local food vendors who so willingly donated food throughout the day for the emergency responders and the Georgia Southern staff who were affected by this incident. Boyd’s BBQ, Chick-fil-A, Firehouse Subs, Olive Garden and Pizza Hut were most generous in their contributions.
Lastly, to the 44 Georgia Southern employees who were quarantined inside Lewis Hall the entire day – without food and drink until the afternoon -- and the cautionary decontamination process to which you were subjected, I commend each of you for the manner in which you conducted yourself. Despite the uncertainty and the potential danger, your patience and understanding, and especially your sense of humor, impressed us all and made a bad situation a little more bearable!
On behalf of myself personally, and Georgia Southern University as a whole, I express sincere gratitude to all the agencies and volunteers who responded to the university’s needs that day.
Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D.
President, Georgia Southern University