Yesterday, after morning and afternoon graduation ceremonies at Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University had taken place, the public safety department on campus received a bomb threat. It was made approximately 40 minutes prior to the day’s third and last commencement exercise. According to Hamden, Connecticut police, the caller turned out to be a former university student. Danielle Shea, 22 years old, first called the campus safety department to warn of a “bomb in the library.” She made a second call about 20 minutes after the first to reveal that there were several bombs on campus. Shea helpfully pointed out that the safety department had not yet “cleared out graduation,” adding that “that’s not a good idea.’’
While the 6 p.m. College of Arts and Sciences ceremony that was set to graduate 388 students did not get “cleared out” by the bomb threat, it was moved to an indoor athletic arena at the university’s York Hill campus. The graduation ceremony, delayed by 90 minutes, took place at TD Bank Sports Center. Shea, who made a detailed confession after being caught by police, explained that the bomb threats were false and that she made them in an attempt get graduation cancelled. The reason she wanted graduation called off, says Shea, is that her relatives did not see her listed on the graduation roster. This made Shea panic. Not only was she not graduating, Shea had not been a Quinnipiac student since the previous semester. She had, however, accepted thousands of dollars during this time from her mother for her education.
From the number used to call the campus public safety department, university and Hamden police were able to identify the person who made the bomb threat as Danielle Shea. Police located, cuffed, and arrested her at the TD Bank Sports Center. She was wearing a graduation cap and gown that she had purchased for the occasion. Shea, a native of Quincy, Massachusetts, has been charged with falsely reporting an incident and first degree threatening. She is currently being held on a bond of $20,000 and is scheduled to appear in court on May 30 in Meriden.
Quinnipiac University President John L. Lahey was assigned to give the commencement greeting. Unable to get his microphone working, Lahey walked over to another podium on the stage, shook his head and said, “It’s one of those days.” “I even had a bad fortune cookie last night,” he added. The commencement address was delivered by widely-acclaimed young American documentary filmmaker Andrew Jenks, who has said in the past that he wants to capture what his generation, which is the millennial generation, thinks as well as “how they act and what they ultimately stand for.” Prior to Jenks’ commencement address, Quinnipiac University conferred a doctor of humane letters honorary degree upon Mr. Jenks in recognition of his talent as a filmmaker as well as his “quest to uncover stories that beg to be told.” In his address, Jenks questioned the significance of college graduation, calling it a risk averse environment. He said that students have been immersed in this environment their entire lives, including up to and through their university education. This environment, said Jenks, discouraged rather than encouraged curiosity. Jenks counseled the graduates to take risks and embrace failure, advice Shea might have benefited had she received it prior to making a bomb threat in order to mask the fact that she had dropped out of college and taken her mother’s money under false pretenses.
By Donna Westlund