The world of social media once again proved to be a reliable and fast source of news, demonstrating its reach when a bomb threat was reported in the McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland on Wednesday, April 24.
Around 2:30 p.m., a person approached the information desk on the first floor of the seven-floor library and posed a question that staff deemed suspicious, according to the report by The Diamondback. Library staff called police soon thereafter, and the library was evacuated after University Police arrived around 3 p.m.
The suspicious question, not specified in The Diamondback report, caused a search of the entire building with police and their bomb-sniffing dogs while the building was evacuated for more than four hours.
Senior print journalism major Claire Yan was studying in the library when she was told to get out of the building by police. “At first I was annoyed, because I thought it was a drill,” Yan said. “When I realized it was real, I thought to myself, ‘seriously, enough with these violent threats,’ because it was right after Boston and the MIT shooting.”
The country has been on high alert of late, with the aforementioned Boston bombings, Texas explosion, and University of Rhode Island lockdown all occurring within the last month.
While the threat was an obvious concern for the community of the university, another concern for students was the nonexistent message from UMD Alerts. The alert program, sent through email or text message to any University of Maryland student who signs up for them, is an efficient system to make students aware of dangerous incidents on or near campus. On this day, however, the alert was nowhere to be found.
“I actually heard about the threat through word of mouth before I received an alert,” sophomore journalism major Katie Secret said. “I thought it wasn’t real because I didn’t get an alert text.” The one problem many students have with the alert program is the constant warnings for crimes; if anything, the alert program is usually thorough. “Why do we get texts every five minutes about car accidents but none about a bomb threat?” Secret said.
Unfortunately, on the day of the bomb threat, no alert was transmitted until police Maj. Marc Limansky wrote an email to the university community around 9:30 p.m. that night. “No UMD alert was issued since there was no verified threat to the community,” Limansky said in the email.
According to the university, alerts will only be sent when the personal safety of students is threatened, and the police deemed that was not the case in the library incident.