PITTSBURGH — Dozens of bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh, including at least four on Monday, have prompted professors to start holding classes outside and forced security officials to implement new building access measures and offer a $50,000 reward
The threats began in mid-February, at first targeting a landmark building at the center of campus. But in recent weeks numerous buildings have been threatened. Four threats had been made by mid-afternoon Monday, starting at about 4 a.m.
“It wasn’t really until probably a few days ago that this started to affect me, as far as my feelings of security,” said Dawn Diehl, who’s studying for a master’s degree in library science. “So now it’s pretty alarming. We’ve never had an experience like this. I kind of have that feeling like, where’s this going to end?”
Diehl was surprised Monday to find all but one door to the main library locked and everyone’s bags being searched.
Under new security measures, students and faculty will need a school ID to get into buildings. Non-residents won’t be permitted in dormitories, and a $50,000 reward is being offered for information.
Brian Graham, a fifth-year chemistry student, said the threats began as being written on walls in buildings, and he hoped security would be able to catch the perpetrator. But then threats started arriving by email.
“I think it’s a little bit more nerve-racking,” Graham said of the latest wave. “I have to either stay later or come in different hours. I would be about to leave home, and then there’d be a bomb threat.”
The threats have caused some professors to move classes outdoors or offer them online and have led some students to stay off-campus. The university, located a few miles from downtown Pittsburgh, has about 3,800 full-time faculty members who serve 34,000 students.
The university is urging faculty to make arrangements for students to make up classes or exams missed because of evacuations, but it says there are no plans to end the semester early.
No bombs have been found and nobody has been injured, and police say the building evacuations will continue. There have been a total of about 25 threats targeting numerous buildings, with some of those threatened multiple times.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton in Pittsburgh issued a statement Friday commending Pitt’s response and confirming the threats “are being vigorously, aggressively and thoroughly investigated through every possible mean” by the region’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the campus police and FBI.