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The University of Chicago canceled all classes after a threat of gun violence

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

The University of Chicago canceled class and activities today and told off-campus students and faculty to stay home after the FBI warned the college about threats of gun violence.

The threat, posted online by an unknown individual, mentioned the campus quad at 10 am, and the FBI apparently found the threat to be serious enough to warn the university, according to a statement from the college's president, Robert Zimmer:

Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday. All non-medical faculty, students and non-essential staff are asked not to come to the Hyde Park campus on Monday, or to remain indoors as much as possible if they are on campus.

Canceling classes over threats of violence is typically rare. But this fall, after a shooting killed 10 people and injured nine others at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, at least three colleges have called off classes after being informed of threats. Besides the University of Chicago, Western Washington University canceled class last week after someone posted threats against students of color on social media, and Eastern Kentucky University canceled classes for two days in October after graffiti on campus threatened to "kill all."

The Chicago Tribune, citing a police report, says the threat at the University of Chicago was to kill "approximately 16 white male students or staff" and referenced the Chicago police shooting of Laquan McDonald. According to the FBI, one person, a student at the nearby University of Illinois at Chicago, is in custody but has not yet been charged.