Representatives from the University of Missouri’s student governments left a joint session together Tuesday night after they were informed of a threat to campus. It came on the social media platform Yik Yak, said Khalil Simmons, student president of Mizzou’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, a coalition of black fraternities and sororities.
“Some of you are alright. Don’t go to campus tomorrow,” the message read. Users of Yik Yak are anonymous. The suspect is in custody and has been identified 19-year-old Hunter M. Park, according to a report from the New York Times. Park is in Rolla, Mo., which is 90 miles from the Mizzou campus.
Yik Yak, which allows users to comment anonymously and has a strong following on college campuses, has been used for threats of violence before, according to the Huffington Post. There was no way to immediately tell if the threat to Mizzou’s campus is legitimate, or if it even came from a student. Some posters pointed out that it had similar wording to a 4chan meme that is related to a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College earlier this year.
University authorities said on Twitter they were aware of "social media threats" and increasing security.
Madalyne Bird, a graduate student at Mizzou, tweeted an email from her professor canceling class on Wednesday, citing their safety. Several other users on Yik Yak expressed fear.
The group of about 30 students walked in unison to Carnahan Quad, where a group of protesters calling themselves #ConcernedStudent1950 set up a tent city last Monday. The last of the tents were being broken down by the time the student government representatives arrived.
The student representatives arranged themselves in rows of five and linked arms. One student told me they were walking this way to provide protection for their colleagues.
The group walked, arm-in-arm, mostly silently to the Black Student Union. Once they arrived one representative made sure all students were accounted for and had rides home.
The protesters erected the tent city last week after numerous complaints of racism on campus. On Monday, after pressures from activists, a boycott by the football team, and a student hunger striker, the university’s president, Tim Wolfe, stepped down.
Collier Meyerson is a reporter at Fusion with a focus on race and politics. She lives in Brooklyn.