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By Ethan Kibbe
CHAUTAUQUA, NY (Erie News Now) – As lectures and events returned to Chautauqua Institution Monday, longtime visitor Denise Collins says she welcomed the return to normalcy.
“I was thrilled,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience. I’m glad to be back.”
She learned of Friday’s attack while driving to Chautauqua from North Carolina and didn’t know what to expect when she arrived.
“It was pretty shocking,” she said of the attack. “We were just floored about the whole situation. I was speechless, because we were on our way up here when we heard about the news, so we wondered what was going to happen and if things were going to be canceled. I was glad they weren’t.”
But as speakers deliver lectures and visitors watch and learn, life at the institution is different, and changes are being made in the wake of Friday’s attack on Salman Rushdie.
“We made some changes in consultation with experts and with law-enforcement,” said Senior Vice President Emily Morris. “We’ve absolutely made some changes to our protocols, and we’re continuing to look at everything to see what sorts of things need to stick around forever.”
Morris says increasing security is a delicate balancing act.
Safety is crucial, but it’s not easy to make changes without altering the relaxing way of life along the lake.
“Certainly, we are very concerned about the environment,” she said. “But the top priority is patron safety and the security of the location. So if we need to do some things that make things a little more apparent, we’re not afraid to do that.”
As security is strengthened, healing begins, as a bastion of higher learning returns to what it does best.
“There’s trauma here, and it’s hard,” Morris said. “But it’s important to try to get back to what we do.”
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