University of Wollongong students have told how they evacuated classrooms and lecture halls as a security scare shut down their campus on Monday.
The threat - made via a phone call - was eventually isolated to one building on UOW’s Keiraville precinct, but not before a campus-wide evacuation.
Student Marissa Tukuafu, who only started her ageing support course on Monday, was inside Building 19 when the university’s alert system was activated about 10.20am.
Ms Tukuafu told the Mercury she didn’t hear an alert over the public address system and only became aware of the unfolding situation when someone alerted her.
“I think it was a security guard or one of the construction men [who] come through, he just slammed open the door and said ‘everyone needs to leave immediately, everyone needs to evacuate the building’,” she said.
“We did think it was just a drill until we came outside and saw 15 to 20 police officers.”
“We had heard … that they had found suspicious items and later a suspicious package, so that’s why we were evacuated and the police had to search.
“It’s our first day of the course, so it was definitely interesting.”
Police later revealed nothing was found inside the building and investigation continued into the nature of the phone call that sparked the security scare.
Despite describing the evacuation as orderly, Ms Tukuafu was startled by the ordeal.
“It was very calm … but I was still very panicked because there was a lot of police officers,” she said.
Another student, who preferred not to be named, was in a law lecture inside the nearby communications building (Building 20) when the alarm was raised.
The student said the PA system alert indicated there had been “an incident” and an evacuation was under way.
“I was kind of like ‘is this for real?’ … [I thought] maybe it was computer-generated, but it wasn’t,” the student said.
“We all walked out and all stood on a big, hot oval. I don’t know anything.”