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University of Idaho students return to campus as murder investigation continues

Students returning after fall break are questioning their safety as police continue to search for a suspect in the murder of four students on Nov. 13.

MOSCOW, Idaho — Sunday, Nov. 27 marks the last day of fall break for University of Idaho students.

For some, that means coming back to campus. But, following the murder of four University of Idaho students, others may be choosing to stay home.

U of I President Scott Green assured students since the beginning of the investigation that the university would meet students where they were.

"The police continue to inform us they believe this was a targeted attack," Green said. "But, we recognize this is not good enough for some of our students who want to complete their semester remotely until the person who committed the crime is in custody."

But, some students say they didn't want to finish their semester online and came back to campus Sunday.

"It was more of a decision if I wanted to keep home at home and school at school," Student Karl Surmanis said.

Other students say they feel safer in coming back, knowing the university is stepping up security.

 "I’m coming back," Student Owen O'Dea said. "I feel a lot safer and I see ISP out, Moscow PD out, Hells Canyon security." 

"I feel safer now," freshman John Nichols said. "I really enjoy being here on this campus. I feel safe here." 

Students say they chose to come back to be with friends and retain some of their day-to-day college routines.

"All my friends will at least be coming back," O'Dea said. "But, overall I think the general population of campus is probably going to return." 

But, even in an effort to get back to the campus life students knew before, some say it's difficult to ignore the realities of what happened on Nov. 13.

"It's been a little bit confusing," Surmanis said. "It's taken everyone by surprise. Everyone is just finding ways to get through it. For me, it's getting through my classes, but I think everyone is trying to just push through." 

President Green said the university will be flexible in its final two weeks of the semester. The university says it still plans to hold graduation ceremonies on Dec. 10.

Leaders say as students come back to campus, they will see an increased presence in local security and law enforcement. Counseling services will also continue to be available at the Counseling and Testing Center over the phone.

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