By Angel Ospina | Posted on Nov. 24, 2015
With school threats unfortunately becoming a norm in today’s society, the tough decision to remain open is left solely to those in charge of the school, not only at Kean, but other colleges across the U.S.
Many students ignored Kean University’s encouragement to attend class on Wednesday, Nov. 18, as the university remained opened the day after racial threats were made via Twitter.
“Kean University is open and operating on a normal schedule, wrote University Relations in a mass email to all students and faculty. “Campus police, in conjunction with local and state authorities, continue to investigate despicably biased threats made via Twitter last night, which continue to be unsubstantiated.”
The threats were made by the anonymous twitter account @keanuagainstblk on Tuesday night, Nov. 17, warning the university of a possible shooting and bombing.
“I will kill every black male and female at Kean University,” the account read in one of its many threatening tweets posted on the page.
After acknowledgment of the threat, that morning, Kean didn’t feel the need to close the university.
“Our campus is open today and operating in full force because that is in the best interest of our community,” President Dawood Farahi wrote in a message sent in a mass email by University Relations.
Kean is not the only school who has received threats in the past few months.
More than a dozen school threats were made in the month of November. Princeton, Harvard and Cape Cod Community College were among the threats made in the past two weeks alone.
Washington College in Maryland did not receive specific threats to the school, but on the morning of Nov. 16 local police notified the college that sophomore, Jacob Marberger, had retrieved a firearm from his home and was missing.
The school decided to close the college the rest of the day and the day after the school issued this statement on its website.
“We would like to reiterate that we have not had any direct threats against campus or any members of our community, but in the interest in caution we feel closing campus until the situation changes is the best course of action,” according to Washington College in a statement.
The school ultimately decided to remain closed until after the Thanksgiving break and reopen on Nov. 30. According to multiple media reports, Marberger was found dead on Saturday, Nov. 21.
The quick decision on whether to close a school after a threat arises is crucial and at times may be life-saving.
Not all colleges make the quick decision to close the campus and unfortunately Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Oregon did not.
The day before the shootings in Oregon the anonymous chat board, 4chan.org, has posted threats on the website.
“Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the Northwest,” wrote the anonymous user on the website.
A day later on Oct. 2, ten people at the community college were killed.
Kean’s decision to remain open after the threats caused uproar by many of its students.
Read more: Kean community reacts to Twitter threats
President of the Students Organization, Nigel Donald was among those upset by the schools refusal to close and even put the responsibility of keeping the students safe into his own hands.
“I’m asking Kean students as your student leader to not attend classes tomorrow as recent threats have been made against the campus,” wrote Donald in a tweet the night the threats were made.
Donald’s tweet received over 470 retweets and many students listened to their student leader by not attending classes the following day.
“I stand by my decision to send that tweet because I was looking out for the student body,” wrote Donald via email. “My personal safety is a different story, but the safety of commuting students making their way to campus daily as well as residential students is the top most priority as a student leader.”
While many students and faculty should have remained closed, others felt the appropriate measures were followed when making the decision to keep the school open.
“I would agree that keeping the university open was appropriate and the correct decision in my professional opinion,” said Dr. James Drylie, the Executive Director of the Center for Cyber Security at Kean.
“There were threats that were made, but the question is whether or not the there was actionable intelligence that would substantiate the threats, and it would appear that there was not,” wrote Drylie via email.
Social media sites such as Twitter, Yik Yak and other sites provide a platform to make threats for those who wish to raise concern.
Whether those that are threatened will deem that threat viable and determine how to respond to the threat is no easy task.
“When threats such as this are made the best course of action is to establish a visible presence of police,” wrote Drylie. “This is evident in NYC and other major cities across the US and around the world.”
Police was heightened at the University for the past two weeks as the Union County Sheriffs Office provided Kean University Campus Police with extra officers.
This is still an active criminal investigation and information will be provided when available.