Approximately 30 students reported to the UT Police Department Wednesday night that they were receiving text messages claiming there was an emergency on campus and instructing them to evacuate all campus buildings, according to University Op-Communications director Rhonda Weldon.
These reports led UTPD to send out an email to all students saying the text messages were false.
“UTPD has received calls this evening regarding a text alert advising members of our community to evacuate buildings,” the email said. “UTPD did not send this text alert. Police are investigating. We have also received reports of similar activity at other university campuses. Again, there is no emergency at this time. This was a false alert.”
The other campuses UTPD referred include the University of Houston, Texas State University, which received messages yesterday, Lone Star Community College and other campuses.
The texts Lone Star Community College students received referred to a potential gas leak, according to the school’s Twitter.
There is a potential gas leak at LSC-University Park. The campus is being evacuated as a precaution. pic.twitter.com/CH4mtIb5Fb— Lone Star College (@lonestarcollege) October 6, 2016
However, the wording of the texts are similar to the texts other students from other campuses received, causing some confusion as to whether a threat was present or not.
Students at UH who received these messages believed it to be referring to the recent clown sightings that have prompted schools and universities nationwide to take caution.
Kinesiology junior Sarah Bunn, who received the text messages, said the messages made her worry for her safety and the safety of those around her.
“I was actually in the middle of performing at the Torchlight Parade, so I was really scared because [the message] was saying to evacuate and move away from buildings, but we were literally in the middle of this huge rally with hundreds of students,” Bunn said. “It was before UT sent out the email that it wasn’t real so I was wondering why people weren’t panicking and leaving the rally. I also got [another message] around the same time from the community college [Lone Star] that I did dual credit classes with, so it was really strange that the same problem was happening on two very different campuses in different cities.”
Weldon said UTPD is currently investigating these reports and communicating with the other campuses as well.