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University of Chicago Shuts Down Campus in Response to Threat of Gun Violence

An anonymous online threat warned that an act of violence would take place at the main quadrangle in the center of campus at around 10am on Monday, prompting the FBI to warn college officials.

by VICE News
Nov 30 2015, 1:00pm

Image via University of Chicago

The University of Chicago has shuttered its main campus, canceling all classes and activities and advising faculty and students to stay home on Monday, following an anonymous threat of gun violence made online last night.

Robert Zimmer, the university's president, said in a statement emailed to the university community last night that the school decided to cancel classes after FBI counterterrorism officials informed the administration of the threat and deemed it credible. The statement said the anonymous threat warned that some act of violence would take place at the main quadrangle in the center of campus at around 10am on Monday. The university did not specify where or how the online threat was made, just that it was enough for the FBI to take seriously.

In addition to the FBI's assessment of the threat, Zimmer cited "recent tragic events at other campuses across the country" behind his decision to close the Hyde Park campus. He advised all non-medical or essential faculty, staff, and non-residential students to stay away on Monday. Students living in university housing were asked to remain indoors and await communication from residential staff.

Related: Suspect Arrested for Threatening Black Students at Michigan Technological University on Social Media

The university said it would also increase security measures on campus today, stationing visibly armed police officers with around the school.

The campus closure is a rare measure, and indicates that both the administration and students are taking the threat seriously. 

"I'm not going down there tomorrow, and I don't have plans on going down there on Tuesday," a University of Chicago student who only wanted to be identified as Will told the Chicago Tribune. "For a threat like this, I want to give a few days to cool off. I think it's pretty extraordinary that the president interceded and canceled everything. I think that suggests something pretty serious is happening."

The shuttering of University of Chicago comes three days after the latest incident of gun violence in the United States, when a gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado on Friday and killed three people, including a police officer.

Related: Here's Everything We Know So Far About the Planned Parenthood Shooting in Colorado