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Some faculty members cancel classes amid UNLV shooting threat

UNLV students stayed home and faculty members canceled some classes Wednesday following a shooting threat discovered in a bathroom stall last week.

The note targeted black students and supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and suggested a shooting would take place Wednesday.

The campus remained open, though spokeswoman Cindy Brown said the university encouraged flexibility for all who decided to stay away.

University Police Services are working with local law enforcement and the FBI to investigate who left the note, Brown said, adding that the inquiry has yielded nothing credible to support the threat. An email from the university Monday said to expect to see more police officers on campus this week.

Brown said the university was aware of some classes and midterms that were rescheduled Wednesday but did not have an exact number.

Samantha Solano, a professor of landscape architecture, said she and colleagues chose to cancel class after being approached by several students concerned about their safety. Solano said she, too, would feel fearful to walk outside of her office.

“We shouldn’t ask students to choose between their safety and getting an education. Those whose classes were not canceled might feel obligated to make that decision and choose to come to class because they might miss something important that could hurt them later on,” Solano said. “There is nothing that could be so imperative to have to make that decision.”

Solano added that technology offered alternatives to coming to class: Her students were asked to submit their assignments due Wednesday digitally, to be graded via email.

With African American students singled out in the threat, the Black Student Organization held an off-campus meeting Wednesday, inviting those who wished to talk about how to help. Members of the organization also posted signs throughout campus and on Instagram with slogans like “Black Lives Matter” and “UNLV doesn’t care about black people,” which further stated that “threats to Black lives on UNLV’s ‘diverse’ campus will not be taken in silence.”

Sanders’ campaign declined to comment, citing security matters.

On social media, students expressed frustration with the university for not canceling classes or closing the campus, some drawing links to the aftermath of the Oct. 1 shooting, when the university held classes the following day.

Still others questioned the credibility of the threat and praised the university’s response, or said they would come to class Wednesday to avoid missing quizzes and exams.

Student Kayla B., who asked the Review-Journal not to share her last name for fear of retaliation from the university, said the student body is disappointed UNLV didn’t cancel classes. For those who know someone killed or injured in the Oct. 1 shooting, the threat of more mass violence is particularly difficult, she said.

“I felt very conflicted. I pay to go to school, and to have to miss out today because of this threat is inconvenient to say the least,” she said. “But I didn’t make it this far in my academic career to be killed, so I ultimately decided to stay away from campus today.”

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at aappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0218. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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