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University of Chicago canceled classes due to threats of gun violence

The University of Chicago has canceled classes after federal authorities claimed a threat of gun violence against the college was made online. The Hyde Park campus was empty Monday morning and remained on high alert.

The University of Chicago announced over the weekend that all classes and activities would be canceled Monday. An attack on the campus quad at 10 a.m. Monday was specifically mentioned in the threat.

University President Robert Zimmer told students and nonessential staff members to stay away from campus and told students living in college housing to stay inside.

“Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country,” Zimmer wrote. “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.”

Unfortunately, Zimmer is right. There have been several incidents of violence sweeping the country.

In October, Philadelphia schools were put on alert over a post that threatened violence on campus. The FBI warned some schools, including Drexel University and Temple University, in an email.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the FBI Philadelphia Field Office notified local colleges and universities of a social media posting which threatened violence at a Philadelphia-area college or university for Monday, October 5,” the e-mail read. “No specific college or university was identified in the posting. We encourage students, faculty, and employees at area colleges and universities to follow the guidance of their campus security officials. The FBI will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate threats of violence, and, as always, we ask the public to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

Eastern Kentucky University was temporarily shut down just days later when someone wrote “KILL ALL BY 10/8/15” on a bathroom wall, according to The Washington Post.

Last week, Western Washington University canceled classes at its main campus after social media posts threatened a black student government leader and other offensive posts. The threats came after a campus debate involving the school’s mascot, Victor E. Viking. The mascot is an angry-looking white character that some argued was offensive to non-white students.

Colleges and universities have been conservative and on high alert since 26-year-old gunman Chris Harper Mercer fired shots at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., killing nine people.

The University of Chicago Medical Center stayed open Monday for patients with more security.

“In response to the threat, the university will have an increased police and security presence on and around campus, including police personnel with visible weapons and other additional measures,” Zimmer said. “University security personnel are keeping in close contact with the FBI, which is continuing to investigate the threat.”

Classes will likely resume Tuesday.

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer
Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as Natmonitor.com, CheekyChicago.com and FamilyFocusBlog.com. Contact Meredith: meredith.rodefer@youthindependent.com