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Lessening the Grip of Fear

May 1, 2018

Dear Campus Community,

I know many of us have been concerned about possible threats to our campus community caused by a Facebook post by one of our students. The post that created the alarm included a photo of a man who committed a mass shooting, killing six people and wounding eight others, in Isla Vista in May 2014.

As soon as Public Safety became aware of this situation, it immediately began an investigation. Although the student denies any intent to harm, this individual has been prohibited from coming to campus as the investigation continues, and the situation is being closely monitored.

Chief Chou Her has been providing the campus with updates, and the people investigating this case continue to believe that there is no imminent threat to the campus community. We have reached out to our sister UC campuses for additional counseling and psychological support for students, faculty and staff affected by this situation. We have also drawn on additional law enforcement support from other UC campuses to help ensure that everyone in our campus community feels safe and secure.

But such assurances cannot always prevent us from being fearful. And so fear understandably caused some students to avoid coming to campus on Monday as rumors spread.

Our work now, as the investigation continues and even after it concludes, is to do what we can to lessen the grip of fear.

We can do this in part by not spreading rumors, but by immediately reporting to law enforcement any suspicious activity or rumors of threats, so that they can be investigated.

We can do this in part by paying close attention to official updates from Chief Her and other campus officials, and by keeping our contact information up-to-date in our campus emergency alert system so that we get those critical messages in the event of an actual incident or threat.

Please know that if Public Safety becomes aware of a credible threat to the campus, they will communicate that via UCM Alert, along with potentially life-saving directions such as which areas of campus to avoid. You can find out more about UCM Alert, including how to update your information and how parents can sign up for emergency notifications, on the Police Department website .

The potential for violence is something that we must live with every day — on and off campus, in our own community and elsewhere in the larger world. This potential means that we need to be constantly aware of our surroundings and vigilant about contacting law enforcement if we see or hear anything suspicious. We must take seriously any social media posts that could be seen as threats of violence, and we must report those to the police as well. And when our communities are subjected to fear or violence, we must also reach out to those affected and offer support.

Rather than succumbing to the grip of fear — and its fight-or-flight responses that can often make a situation worse — my hope is that we can remain instead consistently cautious.

Dorothy Leland

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