Oakland University canceled today’s classes and activities after graffiti messages threatening a campus attack were found scrawled in three men’s restrooms.
The Auburn Hills campus is expected to reopen at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The threats were found Saturday in three buildings — O’Dowd Hall, the Oakland Center and Kresge Library. The buildings form a triangle in the heart of the West campus.
Students spotted the first two messages; the third was discovered when police officers scoured campus buildings Saturday night.
After the third find, officials canceled Sunday activities and closed the campus.
The university’s dorms stayed open, but students were encouraged to go home if possible, said Michelle Moser, a university spokeswoman.
The messages referred to possible on-campus attacks on “4/14” — or April 14 — said University Police Chief Samuel Lucido.
He declined to release the content of the messages, citing the ongoing investigation, but said the threats didn’t target anyone specifically.
“We’re convinced it’s the same person” who left all three threats, Lucido said.
Jayson Moss, a political science major, said it’s disturbing.
“I’m trying not to get super alarmed or anything,” said Moss, 27, of Bloomfield Hills. “I’m glad they’re erring on the safe side.”
Trouble at other schools
Similar messages were found over the weekend at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. That campus is shut down indefinitely.
According to a statement released by Saint Xavier President Judith Dwyer, graffiti messages were found April 5 and Thursday. One read, “Be prepared to die on 4/14.”
This week marks the anniversary of the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech University massacre, during which a gunman killed 32 people and injured at least 20 more before killing himself.
‘It scares me’
Ashley Fairless, who is majoring in elementary education at OU, said the threats should not be taken lightly.
“It scares me,” said Fairless, 20, of St. Clair County’s Riley Township. “Something really could happen. They needed to take action.”
The three buildings in which the messages were found are popular with students, she said, especially the Oakland Center, where students surf the Internet, buy food and mingle.
Like other Oakland students, Fairless received an e-mail Saturday night after the first message was found.
The e-mail, sent by university officials, said that police were investigating a message that “may be interpreted by some as being somewhat disturbing, but it is quite vague and contains no specific threat of any kind.”
Lucido said the subsequent messages were worrisome enough to warrant closing the campus down as a precaution.
As of the fall 2007 semester, OU had just more than 18,000 students, according to the university’s Web site.
Safety before studies
For John Locklear, the threats bring to mind both the Virginia Tech massacre and the February shooting at Northern Illinois University, in which six people died.
Locklear, a 23-year-old journalism major from Clinton Township, said he has a project due today in preparation for upcoming finals, but he won’t be coming to campus to turn it in until he feels safe.
“I don’t want to go to school and worry about being shot in the back,” he said. “I’m more worried about people being safe than I am about my studies.”
The university is keeping faculty and students updated through its Web site at www.oakland.edu.
Anyone with information about the threatening messages can call campus police at 248-370-3331 or dial 911 from a campus telephone.
Contact AMBER HUNT at 586-469-4682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.