University crisis counselling plan activated, classes in CCIS cancelled after non-fatal “emergency situation”

More support staff and more help locations are open today for students that were affected by last night’s “overnight incident” in Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science.

At about 9 p.m. last night, students were ordered by officers to leave CCIS due to an emergency. Students on the Overheard at the University of Alberta Facebook page posted anecdotes of seeing a person in CCIS contemplating jumping off a higher floor. University officials have since confirmed that an  individual was taken to the hospital. The individual was neither a staff member nor a student.

Students arrived Friday morning to CCIS’s doors locked and guarded by university staff. The building will remain locked until at least 6 p.m.

The university’s crisis counselling plan has since been activated to make more counselling resources available to the university community. Dean of Students André Costopoulos said anyone affected is encouraged to reach out to crisis support services, which they can do by phoning Counselling and Clinical Services or the Office of the Dean of Students.

“No matter how or why you’re affected, (you can reach out),” Costopoulos said. “You may have been a witness, or you may have a friend who’s a witness, or you may have a past experience that makes this very traumatic for you even though you were nowhere near the event. If you feel the need for support, we’re here.”

All classes in the building have been cancelled for October 21. Students can expect the university to provide an update on the status on the building by the end of the day. While the structure was not damaged, safety officials are checking to make sure it’s safe.

All students with exams and assignments due will be accommodated “no questions asked,” Costopolous said. Students needing assistance with disrupted academic schedules can contact their faculties or the Office of the Dean of Students to arrange accommodations.

“We will work very hard to make sure this will have minimal impact on students,” Costopoulos said. “For undergrads that means midterms, for grad students it means their labs and their experiments.”

Fahim Rahman, President of the Students’ Union said “things like these happen too often” — during his six years on campus, he’s noticed a trend of emergency situations like last night’s happening around midterms. Rahman added that students need to have appropriate access to mental health services, which is what the SU will be taking out of what happened.

“Even some of my friends were studying at CCIS at the time and they were kind of shocked when they saw the security and health officials coming into the building,” Rahman said. “I hope that anyone who was in the building or who was triggered by the incident receives the help that they need.”

President David Turpin furthered the need for support within the university after what happened in CCIS.

“It’s important in a time like this that all of us stand together and provide support for friends and family of those affected,” he said. “It speaks to the importance of a community.”

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