The code orange level of terrorist alert announced by the U.S. government last Friday has prompted a nationwide shopping spree on supplies that might be useful in case of a biological or chemical attack.
On Tuesday, the FBI announced that colleges and universities could be “soft” targets for terrorist attacks.
Colleges are possible targets of attacks because they are poorly defended, host large events and contain materials for nuclear weapons, according to an article posted on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website on Tuesday.
But Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesperson Steven G. Catalano noted that universities were far from alone on the list of “soft” targets.
“HUPD was concerned that the article gave this impression that colleges and universities were at immediate risk,” Catalano said. “In fact, they were listed as one of many soft targets that included banks, churches and shopping malls.”
Nonetheless, Square residents continue to stock up on protective supplies including duct tape which the Government’s Department of Homeland Security says can be used in combination with plastic sheeting to seal windows, doors and vents in the case of a biological terror attack.
Dickson Brothers—the Square’s sole hardware store—has sold out of both supplies.
Store Manager Ned P. VerPlanck said that although duct tape and plastic sheeting inventories have been depleted because of the heightened alert, more supplies will be in stock tomorrow afternoon.
“It’s because of the newspaper articles and the news on TV,” VerPlanck said. “[The rush] started on Tuesday, with plastic here and a roll of tape there, we sold out.”
VerPlanck said one customer bought “quite a bit” of tape to send across the country.
Catalano said Harvard is prepared to respond to any attack on the University, but he says there no signs that such an attack is imminent.
“Harvard University has very good relations with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies,” Catalano said. “We are in constant contact in order to assess any risk to Harvard. To date, no credible threats have been made against the University.”
House superintendents said they have been apprised of the heightened warning.
Cabot House Superintendent Gene G. Ketelhohn said there are emergency plans in the event of a necessary evacuation, but that in the meantime students should be as alert as HUPD.