Most of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s 9,225 students returned to a semblance of their normal routines Monday, the first time since campus was evacuated last Friday while the FBI searched for evidence linking one of their classmates to the deadly Boston Marathon bombings.
Authorities descended on the campus Friday after identifying 19-year-old Dartmouth sophomore Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as one of the two men alleged to have perpetrated the bombings. Students who did not have off-campus locations to stay at were taken to Dartmouth High School, university spokesperson John Hoey said.
Today, the FBI said in an affidavit that they found a “large pyrotechnic’’ and a black jacket and white hat that may have been the same clothes Tsarnaev was wearing when he allegedly dropped off the bomb on Boylston Street April 15, according to US District Court records.
Sunday night, the university served free ice cream to more than 900 students in the Claire T. Carney Library. The school is making every effort to normalize life for students and staff, Hoey said at a press conference.
“Faculty and students want to get back into the business of learning, which is why they’re here,” he said. “I think they were just happy to be back, happy to be back with each other.”
Like Boston, Watertown, and other communities shuttered during the exhaustive manhunt for Tsarnaev, the Dartmouth campus was inhabited by armored SWAT teams and crime scene investigators Friday.
The school’s dormitories and classrooms reopened Sunday after investigators finished canvasing the campus.
Amid unanswered questions about Tsarnaev — who many acquaintances described as a normal teenager and intelligent student — the Dartmouth community is now tasked with tearing their minds away from the past week’s tragedies and returning to a tempered state of normalcy, Hoey said.
Bells will toll across campus at 2:50 p.m., one week to the minute after a pressure cooker packed with explosives, BBs and nails detonated amid the crowd on Boylston Street.
And most teachers plan to spend the beginning of their classes discussing the emotional and physical impacts of the past week’s events, Hoey said.
The university is advertising counseling services for students and staff who are hunkering down for the end-of-year crunch, he said.
Dartmouth classes end May 1 and final exams begin just two days later, allowing little time for distraction.
“Our students and faculty have a lot of work to do and a lot of things to accomplish over the next few days,” Hoey said.Todd Feathers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.