Magazine article Editor & Publisher

J-Students Get Life-Imitates-Art Lesson

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

J-Students Get Life-Imitates-Art Lesson

Article excerpt

Chemical scare tests reactions

Journalism instructors at Syracuse University were hoping to test their students' performance under pressure this summer when they planned a surprise mock chemical spill and building evacuation on campus. But the professors got a surprise of their own as, before the scheduled emergency could begin, the real thing occurred.

"It was very surreal and very confusing," Amber Smith, an adjunct professor at the university's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in Syracuse, N.Y., said about the event. "It was a real fluke."

The mock disaster, held annually for the last four years, had been organized by Smith and other journalism professors as an exercise in spot-news reporting for about 100 students. The students were told that morning that the fictional emergency drill would occur at 10 a.m. and involve the accidental mixing of ammonia and bleach in a campus building, causing an evacuation and resulting in some students becoming ill.

However, two hours before the planned emergency was to start, a real chemical scare took place when brown puddles began forming inside the campus' biological-research center, forcing an actual evacuation and the need for police, fire, and hazardous-materials crews. …

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