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April 20. 2013 3:15AM

Durham official spent Friday locked down at Harvard

DURHAM - By 5 p.m. Friday, Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig had arrived safely back in New Hampshire by bus after a harrowing week in Cambridge, Mass.



Selig spent the week participating in an executive course focused on negotiation at the Harvard Kennedy School focused on negotiation that was disrupted on Monday as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings, and again on Friday, as much of the city was locked down for a manhunt for the bombing suspects.

At about 6:15 a.m. on Friday, Selig said Kennedy School staff came door-to-door in the graduate student apartment complex where he and 50 other international participants have been staying and told them to stay put.

By noon, they were told to make friends with nearby permanent residents, as the school was unable to provide them with food.

Selig sent a picture of himself eating Cheerios, nuts and granola bars with two other participants, food they were able to "negotiate" from the full-time residents of the graduate housing complex at the Harvard Business School.

Just before noon, participants were advised that the search for the suspect had been expanded and were asked again not to leave the building they were in.

At about 2:30 p.m., taxis were running again and C&J Trailways was operating buses to and from Logan Airport allowing Selig to get home.

Around 5 p.m., he sent an email advising he had arrived safely back in Portsmouth.

Selig said being in a class with people from so many different parts of the world provided some unique perspective on the situation.

One professor talked of students in her class from countries in the Middle East where attacks like the one on the Boston Marathon happen multiple times each week, and spoke of how different it is here in the United States, where one attack can raise so much interest and activity.

"Of course what was going through my mind was I want to be in a country where this is the exception, not the rule, and fortunately we are in a country like that in the United States," Selig said.

The situation was also discussed within the context of the course.

"Negotiation isn't only asserting one's position, but also the skill of de-escalating conflict and these types of terrorist actions are just the antithesis of what we're trying to accomplish through active negotiation," Selig said. "Clearly in this case, the people responsible, for whatever reason, were not interested in negotiation, they were interested in harmful action and it was just so unfortunate," Selig said.



gmacalaster@newstote.com

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