Students offer rides and housing after anonymous threats arise

“It is important students help other students because many times the university cannot provide services to its students,” sophomore Evan Chiarelli said.

Students on MU’s campus Wednesday night were put in an unusual position. After threats surfaced on the social media site Yik Yak, students who live off campus or own a car began offering rides and housing for others who felt they were in danger.

Many students reached out via Facebook and Twitter, including junior Evan Chiarelli, junior Katie Harbinson and Missouri Students Association Senator Katie Rogers.

“I understand that in high risk times people are sometimes unable to reach their cars or buses in order to get off campus, especially when people are parked in far lots like AV14 and Hearnes,” Chiarelli said. “There are a substantial amount of students who lived on campus that did not feel safe where they were.”

While rumors circulated about the Ku Klux Klan, bricks being thrown at residence halls and groups meeting in Speakers Circle to yell racial epithets, a feeling of fear resonated with many student who remained on campus.

“The atmosphere on campus last night was truly one of fear, which is something no student should ever experience on their campus,” Harbinson said. “With everything I was hearing on social media, I was genuinely afraid for the wellbeing of friends.”

Harbinson said that social media was one of her only sources of information that night, and the reports, whether true or false, had an effect on students.

“Of course I was scared,” Rogers said. “I was scared for my friends and family who were on campus. That being said, I was willing to go to campus to help those in need.”

Rogers did not only feel an obligation to help as a student, but as a student leader in MSA as well.

“Being in MSA does make me feel more obligated to help others because it is my duty to serve the student body and do everything I can to protect those feeling unsafe,” Rogers said.

Students, such as Harbinson, said they felt that it was their responsibility as students to help others because the administration’s response was not as strong as they had hoped for.

“Students are mostly the ones spreading information about possible threats, offering rides and safe havens and banding together to make sure all students feel safe,” Chiarelli said. “The administration has been providing resources, counselors, MUPD protection, etc., and doing what it can to monitor threats and neutralize them when they surface. Safety is everyone's responsibility to maintain.”

Chiarelli also said that it is the responsibility of students to help out in ways that the administration cannot.

“It is important students help other students because many times the university cannot provide services to its students,” Chiarelli said. “Had students needed to evacuate dorms or get off campus, there is no way for the university to get such a high quantity of students off campus in a situation like that. So it is up to students to look out for other students.”

Students also said that when making the decision to drive or house people off campus, they tried to see things from a different perspective.

“I knew that if I lived on campus, I wouldn't want to be there and would hope that someone would offer me a place to stay if I was uncomfortable,” Harbinson said.

At the end of the night, fellow students were glad that they offered to help. Harbinson drove a few people home that night, she said.

“We've got to look out for our own,” Chiarelli said. “No student should die trying to get an education.”

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