EDITORIAL: School takes pause after threat of violence

(Troy Pope/The Collegian)

Editor’s note: The Collegian does not name the suspect(s) in mass shootings or the threat of one.

We can take a breath.

The events of Monday which brought normal operations at Fresno State to a grinding halt have passed.

Thankfully, this seemingly-common occurrence of mass school shootings was averted and no one was harmed.

Early Monday, several Fresno State students alerted Collegian editors to a threat that was made on the social media app Yik Yak.

The threat, which pictured the Henry Madden Library, read:

The time is here. At 3 p.m., I will release my frustrations. Tired of dirty looks, getting rejected, and being talked about because of how I dress. My choice of weapon: M4 Carbine and I will take a headshot at a hot blonde.

Authorities were alerted, and The Fresno State Police Department sprung into action.

The police worked with Yik Yak to trace the post to the student’s phone. A Fresno State football player was the man behind the threat.

It’s a lot to digest.

When The Collegian asked Fresno State officials what was happening, they said they were investigating the threat. That wasn’t good enough for us, and we decided to inform as many students as possible through social media.

The school most likely didn’t want to cause panic if the threat ended up not being legitimate, but we felt it was information students, staff and faculty needed so they could decide what measures to take for their own personal safety.

The school did end up sending out alerts between 60 and 90 minutes before the looming 3 p.m. deadline.

What’s remarkable is that our police department was able to track this student down and take him into custody so quickly.

The police should be commended.

Was everything perfect? No. But is it ever?

Many campus-goers didn’t understand what was happening and left because a friend told them to. Other staff members were unsure, even at 2:30 p.m., if the library would close.

The biggest issue was uncertainty. There wasn’t a single police car parked in front of the library as a visual to show students that the school was keeping them safe. Many people weren’t able to constantly check social media to be on top of everything.

Some people didn’t even know there was a threat made. Students showed up to classes and didn’t know why no one else was there and the door was locked. That isn’t the teachers’ faults for taking precautions by canceling some classes. It’s the school’s fault for imposing this “business as usual” attitude.

For any student or staffer who wasn’t getting regular updates, all they knew was that there was a threat made of some kind and not a single officer was dispatched to the location where it was to occur.

Yes, it was a threat. It was a death threat against blond women. “Threat” is so generic it can mean anything. Is it a bomb threat and we should evacuate buildings? Or is it a shooting threat and we should stay inside?

It’s stressful dealing with these things that aren’t ever supposed to happen, not just for students but for the employees of the college.

Little stuff like keeping everyone apprised up-to-the-minute can slip through without a second thought because you know you’ve caught your man. But students don’t know; they don’t share the confidence you’ve gained from knowledge they haven’t been given.

Yes, we were safe. But we’d like a visible show of strength in times like these.

There have been more than 140 school shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012. It’s becoming a hazard of going to school.

We are grateful to those in charge who kept us safe. That is their promise.

Should the school have been shuttered for several hours while the threat was dealt with? Perhaps. Should schools shut down every time there’s a threat? Who knows. At some point you must balance school safety with “letting the terrorists win.”

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