For college students across the U.S., such warnings come with disturbing regularity, driven by hyper-vigilance and federal requirements that officials rapidly report possible threats. Last week, American University in Washington was locked down while police sought a supposed gunman — who turned out to be an off-duty police officer. Within the last month, threats and worried 911 calls have sent tens of thousands of students into hiding in dorms and classrooms at campuses as diverse as Yale, North Carolina Central University, and Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tn. The spate of campuswide lockdowns has drawn attention to the practice, which security officials say they increasingly rely on.
Harvard University evacuated four buildings yesterday amid unconfirmed reports of explosives, and police swarmed the Cambridge, Ma., campus for several hours, says the Los Angeles Times. The bomb threat proved false, but Harvard was not alone in seeing its final exams disrupted: That afternoon, the University of Massachusetts Boston evacuated a building after reports of a gunman, which also turned out to be unfounded.