On Nov. 17, 2015 at 10 p.m., an anonymous Twitter account, @keanuagainstblk, began posting a slew of threats towards the black community of Kean University as well as the entire campus.
These tweets included comments such as “i will kill every black male and female at kean university” as well as threats of a bomb being placed on campus.
Students took this as a direct threat to the place they call home, prompting them to take swift action. In traditional millennial fashion, groves of students took to their social media accounts to combat the threats.
They contacted Kean University and the university police among others. Some even encouraged other students who were silent on the issue to take action and also contact authorities.
Through the students’ steadfast efforts, university police began to investigate the tweets just two hours after they had been originally posted to Twitter.
One hour later, Kean University began posting updates to its official Facebook and Twitter pages to keep concerned students in the loop. This practice continued throughout the day.
Although Kean continued to remain open and operating on a normal schedule, asking students to use their own discretion when coming to campus, the university’s president, Dr. Dawood Farahi, sent a message out to the campus community: “I want to report to you this afternoon that the investigation is ongoing, however I must emphasize that the threats remain unsubstantiated. We intend to pursue this investigation and the prosecution of the individual(s) responsible with all available resources. We simply will not allow individual(s) to impede the opportunities that higher education and Kean University in particular provide our students.”
While the actions of the anonymous individual or individuals behind @keanuagainstblk were deplorable, the actions of both the students and administration of Kean were remarkable. While students and administration have been known to bump heads on issues of racism—seen recently in the events at the University of Missouri, where the administration failed to act on incidents of on-campus racism resulting in an uproar from students, faculty and news media—the community members of Kean were able to prove that, in times of need, students and administrators can work together to establish an outcome that benefits everyone.
Students are often overlooked in situations like these, but without the help of students, Kean University police may have never been aware of such threats, which had the possibility to end poorly for everyone. Students were able to use their voices and social media accounts to inform every one of the threats to the campus community, even before the police were able to do so.
Students were the ones who made it clear that threats like that will not be tolerated. They created a campaign against hate only hours after they had experienced it. Hate was able to strengthen their community by creating a sense of mutual support between students.
Through the huge student response, the administration was forced to address students’ concerns and ensure their safety. Many times, college administrations do not bother to deal with student problems or wait unreasonably long to do so. Even though a majority of people disagree with the administration’s decision to leave campus open, there are few that have been able to disagree with their speedy reaction to the threats.
Amid all the recent chaos that has torn other colleges apart, Kean University remained a close-knit community consisting of students, faculty, administration and police all working towards the same goal of a safe campus for all.