Volume 91, Issue 89

Wednesday, March 18, 1998

Leave it to Weaver


Threat bombs: Moncton hikes a factor

By Joe Jimenez
Gazette Staff

Students and staff were evacuated from two New Brunswick universities Monday as a result of bomb threats at the Université de Moncton and St. Thomas University.

The first threat occurred at approximately 10 a.m. at the Université de Moncton. Typed in French, the threat was in protest of a possible tuition increase at the university. It was hand-delivered to the administration office, said Wayne St. Thomas, director of security services at the Université de Moncton.

The university administration, in conjunction with the Moncton security service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, decided to evacuate the entire university immediately due to the severity of the bomb threat.

The letter explained two bombs were scheduled to explode at 1 p.m., but at that time nothing exploded, St. Thomas said.

Paul-Emile Benoit, director of communications at Moncton, said the bomb threat was an attempt to deter a possible 10 per cent tuition fee increase at the university.

The threat stated increasing tuition fees will not be tolerated by students, St. Thomas explained. The letter also indicated one bomb would be placed in the main administrative building while the location of the second bomb would have to be guessed.

The person who hand-delivered the letter was apparently not involved in the threat, St. Thomas said. "The person just found the letter outside the office and brought it in."

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the threat and an investigation will continue, said Mark Gallager, media relations officer for the RCMP.

Bruno Pondant, VP-academic for the Université de Moncton Students' Federation, wants to distance the bomb threat from their ongoing protests regarding tuition increases. "We don't agree with that type of action," he said.

In Fredericton, St. Thomas University received a bomb threat later the same day. "It could be a copy-cat [of the Moncton incident]," said Bob Edgett, director of university advancement. He said a switchboard operator received the threat via telephone shortly after 1 p.m.. The caller admitted to placing a bomb on campus but did not give the specific location of it or any motive for the threat.

Dan Leger, president of the St. Thomas University Student Union, said students at the school are quite content with current tuition levels and did not believe the bomb threat there had the same motive behind it as the one at Moncton. "We have one of the lowest tuition rates in the province."

Student representatives are currently discussing tuition increases with the university's administration, Leger said. "As long as the tuition increase is at a reasonable level, there will be no official protest."

Both Moncton and St. Thomas universities are affiliated with the New Brunswick Students' Alliance, a provincial student lobby group. Bob Prince, president of the NBSA, said he definitely does not condone any violent action regarding tuition fees. "What student politics needs is debate, not hooliganism."

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