The campuses University of Texas at Austin and North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. were evacuated earlier this morning after the schools received apparently unrelated bomb threats from unnamed callers. UT’s campus re-opened today at noon central time, although classes are cancelled for the remainder of the day; NDSU reopened at 1 p.m. local time and classes will resume at 2 p.m.
A message posted at 9:53 a.m. on UT’s website instructed students and anyone else on campus to leave immediately and “get as far away as possible.” Text message alerts were also sent to the 69,000 people the university says have signed up for them. (The university has about 51,000 students enrolled, and 24,000 staff and faculty, according to the New York Times.)
The evacuation came after a man claiming to be from al-Qaeda called the main university phone number and said he had placed bombs all over campus that would go off in 90 minutes. At a press conference held this afternoon, after the campus had been secured by local, state and federal authorities, UT President Bill Powers said the evacuation was ordered because they could not be assured that the threat wasn’t credible. “We got to the point where we thought that the prudent thing to do was to clear our buildings,” he said.
In Fargo, university officials urged all employees and students to leave campus by 10:15 a.m. after they received a bomb threat. Traffic jams were reported as the university evacuated some 20,000 people from the main and downtown campuses. According to a local news site, two other bomb threats were reported in the region, one of which closed access to the Hector International Airport in Fargo. Another was reported at the Grand Forks airport.
Meanwhile Valparaiso University, a private Lutheran school in Valparaiso, Ind., increased security and warned students after a threat in the form of a graffiti message was found on campus. The schools says the message alluded to “dangerous and criminal activity,” but that classes are continuing as planned. The university tweeted that they did not receive a bomb threat and the situation was “substantially different” than what was reported in Texas and North Dakota.