Bomb threats force evacuations at Brown, Columbia, Cornell

Brown, Columbia and Cornell Universities are the latest in a slew of bomb threats targeting universities across the United States this past week.


On Sunday, Nov. 7, Brown University, Columbia University and Cornell University received bomb threats. Both Cornell and Brown received bomb threats by phone and Columbia’s evacuations appeared to be in response to two threats posted by a Twitter account. (Images via Wikimedia Commons)

Brown University, Columbia University and Cornell University received bomb threats on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 7. Brown evacuated all buildings on the Main Green, Columbia evacuated three halls and Cornell evacuated its Central Campus. 

Both Cornell and Brown received bomb threats by phone. Columbia’s evacuations appeared to be in response to two threats posted by a Twitter account, which has since been suspended. The Twitter user claimed they had placed 40 improvised explosive devices across Columbia’s campus and would open fire with AR-15s and handguns if approached by police. 

Brown police and local authorities are searching multiple buildings on campus after receiving a bomb threat over the phone, according to a safety alert message posted on Twitter by the Brown Daily Herald. According to an email safety alert, Brown’s Department of Public Safety and the Providence Police Department asked members of the university community to avoid an academic building where a suspicious package had been found.

Brown sophomore Jordan Cheung was off campus when he received an alert regarding the bomb threat, but said other students he spoke to had evacuated the targeted area. 

“We’re definitely cautious and worried about the fact that it’s targeted towards Ivies,” Cheung said regarding today’s threats.

According to a Cornell safety alert, the university also received its bomb threat by phone. Kinen Kao, a Cornell senior, said that students are uninformed about what was happening.

“I received a message from Cornell to shelter in place, but we did not know what happened for an hour and a half,” Kao said. “We finally just heard [at around 3:30 p.m.] that there are bombs in the Law School and three other places.”

The Cornell Daily Sun reported that there were bomb threats at three class halls and the Law School, which are in different locations across campus. Cornell tweeted to students at around 3 p.m. to avoid Central Campus. 

Columbia sent four emergency messages. The first, sent at around 2:30 p.m., told students to avoid the three residence halls. 

Michael Ostuno, a Columbia sophomore who lives off campus, said he was surprised to hear about the bomb threat when he arrived on campus with a friend; he hadn’t received the university’s safety alert message.

“We didn’t get any texts, we were just at lunch when students said in a group chat that there were terrorist threats,” Ostuno said. “Now we can’t get home … But I’m glad they’re doing something, at least.”

Caution tape at Columbia University. (Staff Photo by Rachel Fadem)

At 4:44 p.m., Columbia informed students that the three evacuated residence halls had been cleared for reentry by the New York City Police Department. ​​James McShane, Columbia’s vice president of campus safety, emailed students at 4:49 p.m., acknowledging that threats were received at several other colleges and announcing that the NYPD had deemed the bomb threats at Columbia “not credible.”

The threats are seemingly the latest in a series of bomb hoaxes targeting American universities. Yale University evacuated students from the Old Campus on Friday afternoon, Nov. 5, after police received a report that 40 bombs had been placed in various buildings. Ohio University, Miami University and Cleveland State University also received bomb threats in the past several days.

The universities that received threats will continue to collaborate with local police and other agencies to investigate the string of bomb threats.

“We’ll be working hard in collaboration with other universities and Yale University and the FBI to identify this person,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said to local news station WTNH.

This story was updated on Nov. 9 2021, to include new information about ongoing investigations of the threats.

A version of this article appeared in the Nov. 8, 2021, e-print edition. Contact the News Desk at [email protected].

Alex Tey and Trace Miller contributed reporting.