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SGA, WSUPD and the Effects of Mental Health

SGA Meeting 9/20 | Photo by Bethany Althauser | The Wright State University

The main topic of the Wright State Student Government Association’s weekly meeting on Sept. 19 was the incident involving a weapon in the Hangar on Friday, Sept. 15.

Chief Holden

WSU Director of the Office of Public Safety Chief Kurt Holden explained to the attendees what occurred and how the WSUPD responded.

“Everyone’s emotion about what they thought was occurring was very real and validated,” Holden said.

Holden said that the student who brought the weapon into the Hangar went into an unlocked ROTC lounge and grabbed an inoperable training weapon. The student then went into the Hangar and began asking nearby students whether or not the weapon was truly real. Holden said that students in the Hangar reported that the student then held the training weapon above his head, exclaimed that he believed the rifle was real, and students began to run.

Holden explained that the student did not make a specific, individual threat. Holden reiterated that there was not a threat or danger during the incident. 

Despite the inoperability of the weapon itself, police were on the scene within seconds to assess the situation and apprehend the individual, according to Holden. There is also no lasting danger, as the individual has since been trespassed and will be arrested should he step foot onto campus, as Holden explained.

Moving forward

According to Holden, the ROTC is working to assure that no further incidents occur. Holden also asserted that the police will be working on some form of alert that can be sent out in the event that something else of similar status should occur. 

As of right now, there are campus-wide alerts that can go out immediately in the case of an emergency; however, the police did not utilize the alerts for the incident, according to Holden. Holden explained that WSUPD worried that using the alert system would cause further panic. 

Students involved

Multiple SGA members, including President Stephanie Buettner, Vice President Aliesha Knauer and College of Liberal Arts Senator Vivianne Mellon, voiced concerns they had heard from students in that they were inadequately informed on what was going on for a number of hours during and following the incident, which led to further worry and fear. 

At the meeting, there were a number of students in the audience. One student, Nathan Harriman, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, said what he knew of the individual before, during and after the incident.

Harriman said that numerous friends and acquaintances of the individual brought concerns about the individual’s mental health up to the WSU police and to Counseling and Wellness Services to no avail. 

After the incident occurred, police took the individual to Harriman’s residence without forewarning any of the residents there. Harriman was informed that the police could not take the individual to a mental health facility, which is why the police brought the individual to the fraternity president’s residence. 

Harriman and one of his roommates had attempted to take the individual to a mental health facility; however, once at the facility, the individual was turned away, Harriman said.

Looking ahead

SGA tabled discussion about Resolution 24-02 in support of native plants on campus lawns and Resolution 24-03 recognizing Dr. Julie Williams. 

The next SGA meeting will be on Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. in the Student Union Atlantis A/B room.

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