By: Rebecca Panico | Published Nov. 18, 2015
Many students and professors stayed home today even though Kean University remained open after an anonymous Twitter user threatened violence against black students on campus last night.
The online threats were made while students held a sleep-in at 9:30 p.m. last night supporting students at University of Missouri (Mizzou), said Tanaera Green, 22, a senior who said she helped organize last night’s rally.
The threats against Kean are now making headlines, much like Mizzou students did earlier this month after they organized a movement called #ConcernedStudent1950 to denounce their school’s lack of response to racist events on campus.
Some Kean students in the dorms began to yell racial slurs at those who were rallying in the quads, Green said, calling them “monkeys” and using the “n-word” and telling them to “shut up the ‘f’ up.”
“And then right around that time, when people were still yelling, that’s when the Tweet threats began,” said Green, who studies English, psychology and political science. “That’s when it became not just pray for Missouri, it’s pray for Kean. It’s happening right here. It can happen anywhere.”
An anonymous Twitter account named, @KeanUAgainstBlk, posted about nine Tweets last night around 10:30 p.m., stating that “theres a bomb” on campus and that he or she would “shoot any black person i see at kean university.”
Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi sat with students outside the Miron Student Center by the clock tower today, acknowledging the students’ concerns.
Farahi also released a statement in the wake of last night’s events, stating that he supported the students and their efforts to put a spotlight racial and social injustices across the country.
“…Kean remains supportive of our students’ rights to peacefully demonstrate, and vigilant about ensuring their safety and the safety of the entire Kean community,” he said today in a statement emailed to all students, faculty and staff. “Our campus is open and operating today in full force because that is in the best interest of our community.”
Last year Kean University’s freshman population was 20 percent African American, 30 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian, 31 percent white and 14 percent unknown, according to the state Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.
No organization at Kean is taking responsibility for last night’s rally. Pan-African Student Union spokeswoman Nija Miranda stated that her organization, a funded group on campus, did not organize last night’s rally.
PASU’s Instagram donned a photo in support of the rally that was to take place last night, but it has since been removed. Other photos this week have shown support for the University of Missouri students. Six days ago a post was made asking students to wear all black and take photos together in support of Missouri.
Though she was not representing the group, PASU president Kristal Noyan said she was at last night’s rally and noticed that the slurs yelled from dorms were from both black and white students. She said the photo was probably removed out of concern the group would get defunded if people thought PASU had organized it.
Many Kean students stayed at home and some professors cancelled classes, but three students who were on campus said they felt safe. Nina Godbee, 24, said she came to class because she had a paper due today. She noticed that there were a lot of empty parking spots today, a rare sight on campus.
“I figured with the advanced security we’d be okay, but you never really know,” said Nina Godbee, a senior studying sociology. “With everything that’s going on, I figure you’re almost safer if there had been a threat because everyone is on high alert.”
Though some students and staff stated that they hadn’t seen an increase in police presence on campus today, Kean University spokeswoman Margaret McCorry stated the Kean police are working with both federal and local law enforcement to address the threats.
“This was a serious, serious thing to the [Kean University Police Department],” she said. “There is a thorough investigation and they are working with law enforcement from the federal level on down.”
“The reason why the school is open is because the police deemed the Tweets and the threats to be unsubstantiated. The police believe the campus is safe. If there was any question in their mind at all that this campus is not safe, this school would not be open.”