This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST CHESTER — During the early morning hours Monday, a series of nursery-rhyme style posts were anonymously made on the Yik Yak app in the area of West Chester and West Chester University, unnerving some students and prompting many to report a threat to the university’s public safety.
Campus police conducted a swift investigation of the posts, some of which apparently read “run run as fast as you can” and “Richard James is armed.”
“Our campus police found the student quickly, brought him in for questioning and the student admitted to making the post,” said Nancy Santos Gainer, executive director of communications at the university.
The posts did not mention the campus and were determined to be non-threatening and as such, the university did not distribute any information to its students.
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According to the university’s official mass communications methods policy, an emergency notification is sent out “upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on campus.”
As stated in the policy, an “immediate” threat is regarded as an imminent or impeding threat.
Some students felt the lack of communication from the school was unnerving and left those who knew about the posts confused as to what was being done while others who do not use Yik Yak were left unaware of the situation entirely. Though the campus police deemed the post as a non-credible threat, some students either did not attend class or considered not attending on Monday.
“The university didn’t consider it to be credible or a specific threat to us, but I don’t think that makes their silence acceptable,” said Casey Tobias, a student at West Chester University who knew about the posts. “Their failure to address the situation just made me more uneasy and caused me to not go to my classes today.
“Maybe they didn’t want to cause unnecessary fear, but I think they actually did just that in not saying anything. I know many students who refused to leave their rooms today because they were scared and confused by the lack of information.”
Yik Yak’s mission, as stated on its website, is an app designed to “make the world feel small again” by another means of instantly connecting with people around them.
However, posts on the app are made anonymously and a user can only see posts made from others within a 1.5-mile radius, giving them a live-feed of what’s being said.
“Every message you send, every yak is private,” the app’s introduction video states. “It’s okay. Nobody’s looking.”
Back in 2014, a 20-year-old freshman at Widener University was taken into custody after allegedly posting a message on Yik Yak stating he was “going to attempt to shoot everyone they hate and who bully me every single day,” according to 6abc.
Users may up-vote or down-vote a post as to whether they like them or not. Users may also flag a post to have it removed, which is what allegedly happened in the case of these posts in the West Chester area.
However, when a post was removed, the comment allegedly kept appearing and a screenshot was taken of one of those posts, reading, “Run run as fast as you can you thought my repetition was naught but I have warned you fast. Richards James is armed and…”
According to Gainer, the student is not being charged with an offense, but will be going through the university’s student judicial affairs process.