Update on campus threats

Dear campus community,

Following the cancellation of classes on Tuesday, as we move forward, we wish to provide an update on University actions. First and foremost, the safety of our students, employees and guests is paramount. 

The racist invective directed at Western students is abhorrent. In the face of these ugly acts of hatred, we must work together as a campus community to reaffirm Western values of inclusion and diversity.

As we have experienced in the past, when issues of race are highlighted in the media, the campus receives communications and comments from hate mongers.  As stated previously, we condemn these acts.  While many of these communications are protected by free speech, if they contain direct threats please email them to WWU Public Safety/University Police at university.police@wwu.edu for review.

It should be noted that progress continues in the police investigation on hate speech and threats directed at Western students. As part of its criminal investigation, University Police have served a warrant on the Yik Yak social media platform seeking information on those who made threats via Yik Yak.  Other threats are similarly being investigated. 

Individual students who were the direct targets of hate speech and threats have been offered enhanced police protection. University Police continues to assess campus safety and have taken precautionary measures including stepped up patrols and security on campus and near campus. University Police assessment continues to be that there are no threats to the general campus.

It is just as important for all to recognize that not all on campus feel safe. Addressing very real feelings of being unsafe must remain a top priority. These understandable feelings relate, in part and as we have seen this week, to the overt racist expressions. Feeling unsafe also relates, as our students of color report, to the microaggressions and other demeaning behaviors they regularly experience. There is the  opportunity to redouble our efforts to address campus climate and to seek opportunities available to better understand critical cultural consciousness.

A campus planning group led by Karen Dade, Associate Dean of Woodring College of Education and Administrative Leadership Program Fellow; Leonard Jones, Director of University Residences; Nick Sanchez, Employment Inclusion Manager; and Shari Robinson, Director of the Counseling Center, has been formed and will be working with students, faculty and staff and others to envision and plan next steps.

Workshops continue as part of Western's Equity and Inclusion Forum, a university-wide initiative to empower members of the Western campus community to better understand and thoughtfully engage with the experiences and identities of all our community members.

Students, faculty, and staff in need of support have resources available to them. Western's Counseling Center is available to students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; during daytime hours it can be reached at 650-3164, and after hours at 650-3555. Western's Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, is a valuable resource for faculty and staff, and can be contacted at (877) 313-4455 or after hours at (866) 704-6364.

We also strongly encourage Western students, faculty and staff who feel threatened to contact University Police at 650-3555 or the Bellingham Police Department at 778-8800.  Call 911 for immediate threats. University Police have a tip line at 360-650-SAFE (7233) to anonymously report threats or other safety concerns.

The cancellation of classes on Tuesday provided faculty and staff with the time needed to plan next steps and for the police investigation to develop. Normal university operations, including all classes, will resume as scheduled on Monday, Nov. 30.

We are thankful to be a part of a campus community that cares.  We have important work ahead of us and we look forward to working together in addressing the campus and societal issues that are in front of us.


Brent Carbajal, Provost, Vice President, Academic Affairs

Eileen Coughlin, Senior Vice President, Enrollment and Student Services

Rich Van Den Hul, Vice President, Business and Financial Affairs

Stephanie Bowers, Vice President, University Advancement

Steve Swan, Vice President, University Relations and Community Development