UNF President John Delaney Responds To Social Media Threat And Safety Rumors

Nov 14, 2017

University of North Florida President John Delaney is dispelling rumors circulating on campus following social media posts, including one that contains a threatening message.

WJCT News received an email, written by a professor at UNF, that said a Tuesday night class was cancelled because of safety concerns. 

“One rumor was that someone had a gun on campus; another was that a building was locked down.  Yet another rumor was that classes have been cancelled. None of these are true. Every such rumor is false,” Delaney said in an email to WJCT News.

Shortly after this story was posted, a university spokesperson reached out to clarify that UNF professors retain the right to cancel classes and confirmed the email that WJCT News received is authentic.

Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Hans-Herbert Koegler sent the email to his students, writing in part, "We are all asked to consider cancelling courses to ensure safety. I have to make a decision now, and it is on the side of caution and safety that I have to err."

Delaney said he is “completely satisfied the campus is safe, and I urge everyone to be calm."

The university president also addressed concerns about flyers being posted on campus that read, “It’s OK to be white.” Delaney pointed out those flyers are “part of a national campus movement, specifically intended to be provocative.”

The Washington Post has reported on the movement, writing that posters have been spotted on campuses that include Tulane University in New Orleans and the University of Alberta in Canada.

A social media threat screenshot was obtained by WJCT News that reportedly appeared in a Facebook direct message exchange and was later shared among UNF students.

The social media message shows a young man holding what appears to be an assault weapon and reads in part, “Let SDS and the other clowns come at me, I will shut them down.” 

Last month our News4Jax partner reported on a sit-in at UNF over a racist Snapchat video.

The original caption across the Snapchat video read, "What actually went on at the BML [Black Lives Matter] rally."

News4Jax reported that video appeared to show two white UNF students mocking black students by making monkey sounds and prompted one campus group to stage a sit-in at Delaney’s office. 

Delaney said Tuesday that UNF’s police department has "officers, both in uniform and in plain clothes, throughout our campus ensuring safety."

He urged anyone who sees something that concerns them to contact the University Police Department at (904) 620-2800 and reminded the campus community that the UNF Counseling Center is available at  (904) 620-2602.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.