Rumors, Threats Cause Confusion and Stress at University of Missouri


In the same week that University of Missouri students were successful in their attempt to force the resignation of the school’s chancellor and the university system president, police have arrested a 19-year-old student from a second college in the state after he made threats to several black students.

University of Missouri Police have arrested Hunter Park, a white student from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, was arrested early Wednesday morning on charges of making a “terrorist threat” to black students on the University of Missouri–Columbia campus.  No weapons were recovered during the investigation.

According to police, Park used the anonymous social media site Yik Yak to make the threats.  A post appeared on the site threatening to “shoot every black person I see.”  At the same time, tweets came from the university’s Columbia campus saying racial epithets had been used on campus, as well as sightings of a group of men walking around with bandannas covering their faces and yelling racial slurs at black students, reports Yamiche Alcindor for USA Today.

Adrian Florido reported for NPR that one threat written on Yik Yak warned students at the school to not go to their classes.  The news caused some black students to leave their dorms, opting to spend the night off-campus with friends.  Many were too scared to return to campus and asked that classes be cancelled for day, which some professors did.

Garnett Stokes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, released a statement saying school officials were proud of students for standing up for their rights.

“We want to support them while continuing to assure an atmosphere of security and opportunity for all,” he said. “This can be a wonderful learning experience; we must treat each other with respect. We can and will look beyond our differences and heal the wounds that some have experienced.”

Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader thanked the police for handling the situation so quickly, adding that threats of any kind would not be tolerated by the school.

According to MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, several accounts were used to threaten multiple students, although it is believed the suspect was never physically on the campus.

Just after Park’s arrest, Loftin announced on Twitter that classes would resume as normal, “with increased security.”

Park is being held in Columbia on $4,500 bond.

During the protests that led to the resignation of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and system President Tim Wolfe, black students had complained that the university was not treating these kinds of threats as seriously as they should.

As a result of the recent threats, the Concerned Student 1950 movement took to Twitter, saying their concerns were validated.

Jonathan Butler, a graduate student at the school who had gone on a hunger strike during the protests, posted what he said was a conversation between a teacher and student prior to the arrest of Park. The student had told the professor she felt unsafe going to class, to which the teacher replied that he would be there and would be giving an exam that day.