Stanford received a bomb threat. Why didn’t students know?

Nov. 18, 2021, 10:53 p.m.

An unidentified individual called in a bomb threat at Stanford on Nov. 5, according to the week’s police blotter. Despite a recent uptick in bomb threats at several peer institutions between Nov. 5 and Nov. 7, including Columbia, Cornell and Yale, Stanford students were not notified of the threat. 

The caller claimed to be a student, and said they placed several improvised explosive devices across campus, according to a University spokesperson. Police later determined that the threat was not credible. An investigation is ongoing to determine whether there is a connection between calls made to other universities.

The threats have also raised questions over universities’ safety measures for emergency situations, and how they would respond had the threat been real.

University spokesperson Dee Mostofi said that the caller made incorrect statements regarding campus geography and names of buildings, leading the Stanford University Department of Safety to believe that the threat was false.

“Nevertheless, a thorough sweep of several campus buildings and locations was conducted to confirm that there were no such devices and that an actual threat did not exist,” she wrote. 

Unlike other schools, however, Stanford did not alert students to the threat or evacuate any buildings. Peer institutions sent alert notices to the students, and many, including Columbia, Yale and Cornell, decided to evacuate targeted buildings pending investigation of the threat. James McShane, Vice President of Public Safety at Columbia University, told The Daily that he made the decision to evacuate the specified buildings as a safety precaution. He did so through a series of texts to the community and assisted with evacuation.

Columbia student Brooke Talley ’25 said that she and many other students did not receive the alert and only evacuated when someone knocked on her door. 

“It was worrisome that there were tweets saying there were 40 bombs around campus, but they didn’t even evacuate all the students in the two dorms,” she said. 

After hearing that a threat had been made at Stanford, Montanna Riggs ’24 said that students have the right to know whether a threat is made, especially because violence has become so prevalent in this day and age. 

“When you’re in a place that’s publicly accessible, to not evacuate or even alert [students] is almost inappropriate,” Riggs said. “It feels like a major lapse from an administrative standpoint.”

She added that, had it been a real threat, she would not know where to go, given that there are no drills for active shooter situations.

“My question now is: was the administration ever planning on saying anything?” Riggs said.

The University did not provide a response about what type of threat would merit an alert or call for an evacuation.

Sarah Raza '23 M.A. '24 is a Vol. 264 News Managing Editor. During Vol. 263, she was a Desk Editor for the University Desk. She hails from Michigan. Contact Sarah at sraza 'at'

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