Hub Telegram – A top-ranked university has canceled classes after federal authorities said someone made an online threat of gun violence against the college community.
The University of Chicago announced over the weekend that all classes and activities would be canceled Monday at its main campus on Chicago’s South Side after the FBI informed the school that an unknown person had posted a threat online against “the campus quad,” a popular student spot, for 10 a.m. Monday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the time “came and went without incident” but noted that “except for campus police and other security personnel in blue coats stationed on nearly every block, the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus was desolate Monday morning.”
University of Chicago spokesman Jeremy Manier said the campus was quiet.
School President Robert Zimmer had warned students and nonessential staff members to keep away and told students in college housing to stay indoors.
“Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country,” Zimmer wrote in an announcement, “we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday.”
Indeed, similar threats — and spasms of violence — have swept the country in recent months.
Last month, schools in Philadelphia were put alert over a 4chan post that threatened campus violence.
Days later, Eastern Kentucky University temporarily shut down when someone wrote “KILL ALL BY 10/8/15″ on a bathroom wall.
Last week, Western Washington University canceled classes when someone on social media threatened minority students.
The threats followed a campus debate over an initiative to change the school’s mascot, Victor E. Viking, an angry-looking white character that has represented the school for nearly a century.
Some on campus argued that the mascot may be considered offensive to non-white students; others became angry over the claim. And the friction ignited a heated exchange on social media.
Ohio State University police were called Sunday morning when a former employee vandalized school property and then shot and killed himself,authorities told the Columbus Dispatch.
On Sunday night, film students from Moorpark College in California were arrested when they triggered a panic the 101 Freeway with replica weapons,according to the Los Angeles Times.
Colleges and universities have been on high alert since last month, when 26-year-old gunman Chris Harper Mercer opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., killing nine people and wounding many others before taking his own life. Witnesses said that during Mercer’s “horrific act of cowardice,” he had singled out Christians when choosing whom to kill.
Students at the University of Chicago were preparing to return to school from the Thanksgiving holiday Sunday night when they got word about the threat. Zimmer, the university president, said all events at the Hyde Park campus would be canceled Monday, including those at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the University of Chicago Charter School campuses, university libraries, the Quadrangle Club, as well as other campus facilities