UTPD issues statement regarding 'non-credible' 4chan threat

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Updated (1:30 a.m. Tuesday): Journalism professor Robert Quigley said he is upset by the fact that threats such as this can control an entire community.

“It’s sad that we’re at this point in time in our culture and in our society where we have to worry about this kind of thing,” Quigley said. “It’s really too bad that these shootings have happened and that a threat like this whether real or some kind of troll, can shake an entire campus.”

Quigley compared the online threat to terrostic threats made in the aftermath of 9/11. Quigley said the reality that campus shootings have happened recently, noting the shooting in Oregon, is leading to increased fear.

“It’s easy to say well it was just some troll,” Quigley said. “The fact that we’ve had real campus shootings puts everybody on edge.”

Quigley, a Texas Student Media board member, said he first learned of the threat from his students, before UTPD sent an email to the campus community.

Albert Orkun, economics and math freshman, said he is not worried about the threat at all.

“I am going to class,” Orkun said. “I’m going to wake up and just live my life normally.” 

Plan II freshman Cecilia Handy said some of her friends feel uncomfortable going to class on Tuesday, but said she will go to class, despite reservations stemming from the recent Oregon shooting. 

“Some of them don’t feel comfortable going to class tomorrow,” Handy said. “I feel comfortable going to class, but I don’t know how I feel about the email UT sent that said it’s not a credible threat. I don’t know how comforting that was to receive.”

Quigley said he feels UTPD handled the situation well by emailing the campus community and creating awareness, while trying to subdue the hysteria.

“I just don’t know what the police can do when everybody is really nervous and really on edge,” Quigley said. “I think that was handled pretty well.”

Biology junior Callie Hatcher said she will go to class to keep up her grades, but feels apprehensive about police responses to the 4Chan threat.

"It’s insane that shootings like these have become so common that there’s a legitimate reason to be afraid. APD and UTPD reacted to the situation swiftly, but I wish they’d be a little less cryptic with their announcements,” Hatcher said over Twitter. “I’ll more than likely be going to class tomorrow. There are I-Clicker points up for grabs that affect my grade a great deal.”

Quigley said even though he doesn’t have class scheduled tomorrow, he will be in his office hours for his students.

“You can either choose to live in fear, or you can choose to live your life,” Quigley said. “At this point I choose to live my life, of course I’ll be observant and pay attention to what’s going on around me, and I think everybody should.”

 
Anthony Green, Josh Willis, and Caleb Wong contributed to this report.

Original report: A 4chan post, that has since-been deleted, spread on Facebook and Twitter Monday afternoon when an anonymous user urged students to not go to school on Tuesday if they are near Austin. 

idc if this is a joke or serious, but still stay safe. #Austin #texas pic.twitter.com/vcCmgRDXwT

UT sent out a safety alert that said the threat was deemed non-credible by UTPD and associated law enforcement agencies, despite its resemblance to a 4chan post from last Wednesday night that warned students in the Northwest against attending school on Thursday — the day of the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon that led to the death of 9 students and staff members, plus the death of the shooter by suicide.

UTPD is aware of threatening posts & working w/ other agencies. No credible threat at this time.

The complete text of the Austin post read “Some of you guys are alright. Don’t go to school tomorrow if you’re near Austin. happening thread will be posted later. so long, space robots.”

This follows similar threats to colleges and universities around the Philadelphia-area stemming from a Sunday 4chan post. 

Zainab Calcuttawala and Anthony Green contributed to this report.

 

If you are a student concerned about the situation and need to talk to someone about it, here are some University resources:

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Crisis Line: 512-471-2255

Behavior Concerns Advice Line: 512-232-5050

UT Police Department (for emergencies): 512-232-5050

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Services: (512) 471-3515