Last Sunday, Oxford College student Emily Sakamoto threatened to carry out a mass shooting via the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak. This threat wasn’t made somewhere else in the country, but at the very institution we all attend.
The police said they were notified within five minutes of the threat being posted. However, they arrested the suspect almost 16 hours later, around 4 p.m. Oxford Dean and CEO Stephen Bowen sent an email to Oxford students explaining the incident at 8:30 p.m.
Although we do not know at which point the threat was deemed not credible, the roughly 20-hour window in which there was a gap in communication seriously concerns us. Students speculated and shared a screenshot of the Yik Yak threat all while waiting for Emory to officially respond and inform students of the actions being taken. Some at Oxford locked themselves in bathrooms out of fear. Others hid in their rooms. The administration left those students without answers or information far longer than necessary. Some students at the Oxford campus, including Oxford’s SGA who sent an email with their concerns to Emory officials, were enraged, rightfully so, by the lack of information regarding the threat they received.
We understand the hesitation to publicly address the threat out of fear of inducing panic, but in this particular case, students were aware of the threat and were already panicking.
Those on Emory’s main campus waited for an all-Emory email that would explain the situation to the community. Monday passed, Tuesday passed, and still we waited. It wasn’t until Friday morning that the University communicated with the rest of the Emory community as to what happened at Oxford.
An email from two assistant vice presidents arrived in our mailboxes Friday morning, yet it was anything but comprehensive. It diluted the importance of active shooter situation preparedness. It seemed as if parts of the email were copied and pasted from a generic description of Emory resources.
It concerns us that Emory would take five days to notify the entire community about something as serious as a potential shooter on one of our campuses.
A threat is a threat. In this day and age, we are well past the point where we have the luxury to consider a threat of this nature as a “joke.” Events at other schools have made that more than clear.
At the end of the day, we don’t yet know how credible this threat was or what Emory did behind closed doors to handle the situation, but what we do know is that we were left in the dark.
Moving forward, we would like to see Emory more proactively inform students of what to do in the case of an active shooter on campus. Additionally, we hope the University will consider major changes to the ways it communicates with our community when under threat.
The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel‘s editorial board.