‘Underlying anxiety’ won’t leave U of I campus until killer is caught, dean says

Many students are back on campus this week following the slayings of four University of Idaho students in Moscow.

U of I Dean of Students Blaine Eckles told the Idaho Statesman in an interview Wednesday that he’s glad to see students return to finish the semester but is concerned for their safety.

“I’m pleasantly surprised with how many students have come back,” Eckles said. “But I’m also worried for them. I’m worried for everybody, quite frankly, and until someone is identified and in custody here, I think everyone’s going to have that underlying anxiety.”

Eckles didn’t have specific numbers on how many students have opted to participate in classes remotely for the rest of the semester but said he’s seen significantly more students on campus this week than he did the week before Thanksgiving, when the stabbings occurred.

Police have not identified a suspect in the homicides.

“Many students have come back,” Eckles said. “They’re still anxious and they’re still worried but they’re also determined to finish the semester.”

He said he joined a class earlier this week that had about 50% in-person attendance.

Participation rates vary by class, he said. Some students need to be on campus for chemistry or biology labs, and some just prefer to learn in person.

“There’s quite a bit of foot traffic,” Eckles said. “It’s been good to have them back.”

Eckles said some students have chosen to stay home for the remainder of the semester because they’re concerned for their safety or their parents are.

He said Moscow is typically a safe community where homicides are rare.

“This is a stark reminder that violence can happen anywhere,” he said. “Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often here. No parent wants to send their student off to college and not have them come home.”

U of I’s Counseling and Testing Center is available to students 24/7, Eckles said. The university has more counseling staff than any other higher education institution in the state, he said.

Despite increased demand for the service, Eckles said, there haven’t been any issues getting students help and those with regular appointments are able to continue as usual.

“We’ve always had emergency walk-in options, even before this incident,” Eckles said. “If a student shows up, they can always see a counselor immediately.”

The four victims in the killings early Nov. 13 were U of I seniors Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, who were close friends; and junior Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, and freshman Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington, who were dating.

The three women lived in the house, while Chapin was staying overnight with Kernodle.

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