Update at 4:50 p.m. The Brandeis campus has been reopened, and students are free to return to their residences after a seven-hour evacuation. The university will resume normal operations tomorrow.
Staff, faculty, and students were evacuated from the main Brandeis campus after administrators received a bomb threat in an email early this morning.
Campus residents first gathered on the playing fields while all non essential staff and faculty left campus for the day. The emergency closing email was followed by an increased police presence around campus. Law enforcement continues to investigate the situation and the campus will reopen once it has been deemed safe.
Brandeis police facilitated the campus evacuation as cars poured out of the main entrance. Between 9:52 a.m. and approximately 11 a.m., members of the Department of Community Living went door to door in every residence hall on campus. They escorted residents out of their buildings and directed them to the fields.
As she introduced herself to members of the Brandeis community on the playing field, Provost Lisa Lynch told students that administrators were being “overly cautious.” Around 12 p.m. students moved to the Gosman Gymnasium after spending about two hours on the soccer field. Everyone was provided with food and water on the field and inside the gym.
“I was a little freaked out, I called my parents but… I think Brandeis did a really good job with moving everyone and getting everyone food and water,” said Demi Ingraham ’20. Throughout the day, students have been checking in with family and friends to say they are safe.
Brandeis administrators made themselves available for questions but would not comment on the status of the bomb investigation. Students were not forced to remain in Gosman but told to not return to campus.
Around 1 p.m., Brandeis announced the campus will remain closed for the day, and that public safety personnel had not concluded their search of the campus, but the administration is hopeful that students will be able to return to their dorms to sleep tonight, according to Judy Glasser from the Office of Communications. The university will announce a plan to house students overnight should it become necessary, but Glasser said she was not prepared to speak publicly about the plan at this time.
The first of four move in dates for the Fall semester is Aug. 25, but approximately 250 students are already being housed on campus, including Orientation Leaders, Community Advisors, Roosevelt Fellows and international students participating in an English intensive program before classes begin. The first year class moves in this Sunday and all returning students will arrive by Tuesday, Aug. 29.
There have been more than 100 threats made against Jewish centers this year as well as instances of vandalism. In March, a Israeli teen was arrested in connection bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCC) and schools around the country. The Holocaust memorial in Boston has been vandalized twice this summer.
Brandeis is a nonsectarian university but was founded by the Jewish community in response to quota systems for Jewish students at other major universities. Some on Twitter have raised the possibility that the threat could be connected to Brandeis’ history as a university founded on Jewish values, but so far the university has not commented on whether the threat was made against Brandeis as a Jewish organization.
The Waltham Public Library received a bomb threat one day earlier, but police have not linked the two instances. Administrators have not stated the nature of the bomb threat outside of the fact that it was “credible.”
Many parents expressed worry and prayers for everyone’s safety in comments on a Brandeis Facebook post. However, others expressed concern that the university’s information was too vague and that relocating all the students to the field made them a target.