Feb 012011
Authors: Allison Sylte

In wake of widespread confusion following two text message alerts warning of an “unsubstantiated threat” to campus, the Public Safety Team is reassessing their text message alert system.

“Yesterday was a case that we had never dealt with before,” said Brad Bohlander, a CSU spokesman and member of the Public Safety Team. “We understand the frustration felt by students regarding the vagueness of the messages, but we decided to err on the side of caution.”

The Public Safety Team is comprised of a wide variety of members from departments across the university and deals mainly with emergency response. In the event of a potential emergency, they meet either face to face or via conference call to determine the university’s action plan.

Upon receiving a tip from the FBI regarding a potential threat at the university, the Public Safety Team met early Monday morning and determined whether or not to notify the CSU community.

The true nature of the threat was unknown by the Public Safety Team, according to Bohlander, so the ultimate decision of whether or not to send the texts was based off of whether or not they would benefit public safety.

Many students, however, complained about the vagueness of the texts and argued that, given that no details of the alleged threat were discussed, they were ultimately unnecessary.

“I thought that it was kind of weird when I got the text message,” said freshman chemistry major Cody Palumbo. “It must be pretty serious if the FBI got involved. It freaked me out a bit.”

The Public Safety Team is legally bound to notify students of potential emergency situations via the Clery Act, a law created in 1990 mandating that universities must notify students of any threats to campus.

In cases where universities do not notify students of potential threats, they can be fined and lose federal financial aid.

But Bohlander said the Clery Act was not applicable in the case of Monday’s threat. The decision to notify the public, therefore, was solely at the discretion of the Public Safety Team.

“There are no black and white rules when it comes to what students ought to be notified of and what they shouldn’t,” Bohlander said. “At the end of the day, I would prefer to be criticized for being overly cautious rather than the other way around.”

No further details regarding Monday’s threat have been released. The only information known is that the FBI gave CSU a tip saying that a threat came through the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center, which reports cyber crime activity.

Bohlander said the investigation is ongoing and that there is no timeline as to when details of the incident will be released to the public.

“At this point, everything is back to normal,” Bohlander said.

Assistant News Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 6:07 pm

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