Earlier this month, two University students were arrested in the U.S. Capitol building for a bomb hoax. While the intent of the two students is still uncertain, it has been suggested the students were most likely trying to show their stance against the war in Iraq.
More police officers and security checks are now in place in Washington, especially at the Capitol, due to the nation’s heightened fears and increased tensions caused from the ongoing war in Iraq.
Despite the security, events like the bomb hoax in the Capitol are becoming more and more common in Washington.
But many University of Michigan graduates working in the Washington area have found that living in the capital has not made life uneasy for them.
Since the start of the war, the possibility of a terrorist attack has also increased, bringing tensions to perhaps an all time high.
“It hasn’t really affected my work,” said University alum Kevin Cunningham on the increase of security threats in the Capitol. “But there is a recognition of the dangers in Capitol Hill,” he added.
Cunningham, who works for Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing), said the atmosphere is “tense at times” and that the people don’t necessarily talk about the threats of an attack because they are unidentifiable and may not be preventable.
“A couple days ago the alarms went off in my office and all the people were scrambling out. Usually people would just ignore the alarms,” he added.
But for alum Brendan Hill, the tense atmosphere is something he has grown accustomed to. “I’ve been here for two years now. I’ve been through the sniper shootings and the whole anthrax thing. It’s just something you accept,” he said. Even with the security lockdowns, Hill said things haven’t really changed.
University alum Alicia Johnson had similar remarks. “Being in DC, you are inundated with the news everywhere you go, so the constant talk of terror and security did take a little getting used to. In the end, you just have to take reasonable steps to feel secure,” Johnson said.
She said she has been taking these steps to stay safe whenever necessary.
“During the height of the most recent orange terror alert, I avoided the metros (subway) and chose to drive instead, after having heard reports that suicide bombings were increasingly likely,” Johnson added.
Recent University alum Mike Grass, who works at the political newspaper Roll Call, said that “some people obviously are concerned, and it is on their minds constantly. Others, including myself, just live and go about their lives in stride.”