UPDATE — 8:22 p.m. Sunday
Students at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy are calling upon the school to either cancel class Monday or to offer courses remotely “without any repercussions to students who choose to attend virtually” following Saturday’s threat of a shooting against women on campus.
Undergraduate Public Policy students sent an email Saturday afternoon addressed to Public Policy Dean Michael Barr and the school’s faculty and staff saying both cohorts do not feel comfortable going to class on Monday.
“While we understand that the University does not take this threat lightly, they have yet to make an effort to fully inform students on how they plan to address this threat and how they are going to protect women on our campus,” the email reads. “We feel it is best to allow students to make their own personal decision on whether or not to attend in-person classes on Monday, as per our request stated above.”
Barr responded to the email Saturday evening, writing that faculty have been encouraged to be flexible with class instruction Monday.
“ … As policy professionals, we understand the sad and scary truth that the threat was terrifying in large part because the violence against women it invoked is far too common in the U.S., as is gun violence more generally,” Barr wrote. “We’re a country that chooses to subject elementary school students to terrifying lockdown drills, for example, and accept regular mass shootings rather than address the core issues of gun violence. And violent hate crimes are on the rise.”
The individual responsible for the shooting threat is cooperating with authorities and is not in custody, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Sunday evening. University President Mark Schlissel wrote that classes would continue “as scheduled” on Monday in a Sunday email to the campus community.
“What we know today from the FBI is that the threat has been mitigated, and there is no current or pending threat based on the post,” Schlissel wrote.
ORIGINAL STORY — 4:13 p.m. Sunday
More than 1,200 University of Michigan community members have signed a petition Sunday demanding that the University’s administration move classes and as many activities as possible online on Monday, Oct. 4 following the online shooter threat that shook campus Saturday afternoon. The petition will be sent to University President Mark Schlissel Sunday afternoon.
“We worry the administration has let its eagerness to re-open in-person classes overtake its responsibility for keeping the campus community safe and alive,” the petition reads.
“Contradicting the University’s professed commitment to ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion,’ the administration has downplayed a gendered threat,” the petition continues. “By allowing in-person activities and classes, the University has effectively granted individual instructors and supervisors the power to determine whether their students and workers must place themselves in danger.”
An anonymous individual posted the threat to the Russian online platform Sinn List and said they would target University women in a shooting on Oct. 4.
The out-of-state individual responsible for posting the threat was identified and interviewed Saturday afternoon by the University’s Division of Public Safety and Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As of Saturday afternoon, DPSS has not announced the status of an arrest.
DPSS had previously announced they would increase the number of staff present on campus Monday and take “other risk mitigation steps” in light of the threat. It is unclear if these measures are still planned for Monday.
Though some professors have moved their courses online, many others have not, and there has been no University mandate to move all classes and work to remote or to grant a day off.
Despite the DPSS announcement that “there is nothing to indicate imminent harm to our community,” the petition asserts the University needs to mandate all classes take place online Monday to actively prioritize students’ physical and mental safety.
Rackham student Alex Burnett co-wrote the petition along with Social Work students Arie Davey and Matt Dargay. Burnett told The Michigan Daily she believes the University should move all classes and campus activities online Monday and should provide additional assistance for students, faculty and staff affected by the threat.
“An adequate response looks like intense support for students and workers, as well as (answering) how is University going to sort of address this in the long run,” Burnett said. “We know that this isn’t an isolated incident. We (also) know that simply putting a bunch of heavily armed, mostly white men with machine guns on campus and continuing classes in person and business in person, (is) not enough to actually address what we’re seeing here.”
Social Work student Brontë Munson was one of the many students who signed the petition. Munson said she feels disappointed with the University’s response to the threat, citing the University’s ability to move classes online.
“It feels very dismissive and it’s hurtful,” Munson said. “I don’t feel that any of us should have to choose between our academic success and protecting our physical and mental well-being.”
The petition’s authors echoed Munson’s statement, saying many students do not feel comfortable walking around campus Monday and criticizing the University for placing students in the position of potentially having to worry for their safety.
“The administration’s haphazard response has reminded many of us that the University of Michigan remains a profoundly patriarchal institution, concerned with profit and policing over women and other gender oppressed people’s lives,” the petition reads. “Simply put, we do not feel safe coming on campus this Monday.”
Barbara Collins contributed reporting.