A man carrying a glue gun for an art project caused a massive commotion at a university in New York after he was mistaken as a threat, prompting the campus to be put on lockdown.
Students in Colgate University were ordered to “shelter in place” while local authorities looked into the reported gunman on Monday night. The lockdown lasted for four hours, ending in the discovery that the supposed “threat” was an African-American student with a glue gun.
Many have questioned the school’s apparent overreactions to the incident, with some students noting that racial profiling contributed to the lockdown. According to Huffington Post, the university and authorities have acted on the reports then followed that someone with a weapon had already entered the O’Connor Campus Center.
Shortly after, the university administrators tweeted, “There is an armed person at the Coop (a campus dining hall). Find a safe space and remain indoors. If you are off-campus, stay away.”
Colgate Alert: There is an armed person at the Coop. Find a safe space and remain indoors. If you are off-campus,stay away.
— Colgate University (@colgateuniv) May 2, 2017
While the police were investigating the reports, rumors spread within the campus that there were originally two gunmen, and one had committed suicide. The rumor has been determined later to be completely false.
“After thorough investigation, and with the assistance of the person in question, law enforcement identified the individual as a student who was using a glue gun for an art project, confirmed the misunderstanding, and released the campus from lockdown,” Colgate would later release in a statement.
“We understand that this has been a very upsetting evening on many levels. Students who wish to gather at the chapel to be together can do so tonight at 12:30 a.m.”
The university drew flak both on campus and on social media concerning its reaction to the student with the glue gun.
A group of students flocked to the university’s chapel until well after 2 a.m., expressing their “profound dismay that a student of color engaged in academic activity could be identified as a threat to the campus,” according to an email by Constance Harsh, interim dean of the faculty and provost, and Mark Thompson, interim dean of the college, according to the Syracuse.
In a statement, Colgate’s president, Brian W. Casey, stated that they are already reviewing how racial profiling affected the entire situation. He also wrote that during the investigation, director of campus security Bill Ferguson will be put on administrative leave, citing an “implicit racial bias” in the handling of the incident.
“It’s important to understand the role that implicit racial bias had in the initial reporting of and responses to the events of last night,” Casey said. “More egregiously, perhaps, was the effect profiling had on the response of safety officers and other university offices to these events.”
Despite the apparent recognition that racial profiling might have been in play with the school’s over-reacting, students are dismayed that none of the statements released by any officials so far has amounted to anything resembling an apology.