Angus Maxim proves correct after bomb threat shuts down Murphy
Victoria was one of three tertiary institutions last week to be targeted by violent threats.
Last Wednesday, Murphy Building was evacuated and Kelburn Parade was cordoned off after a note threatening the detonation of three bombs at Victoria was discovered.
While the threatening note reportedly did not mention any building in particular, Murphy was considered the likely target.
One student told Salient that “campus security burst into the class” and appeared “super concerned that we leave now”.
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“Police were insistent that we move as far away from Murphy as possible… police were directing traffic and telling us to get up Kelburn Parade as quick as possible and as far as possible. No one knew what was going on because no one told us anything other than to move,” the student said.
Police concluded their search in the Murphy buildings having found no suspicious items.
“Based on the information available, police are confident that any potential threat was localised to the Murphy building,” the Police stated. “Investigations into identifying the person who made the threat will continue.”
The threats came two days after a gun threat was leveled at the University of Otago via the social networking site 4chan, which saw Otago’s campus virtually empty the following day.
Later that Wednesday, Massey University Palmerston North also saw parts of its campus evacuated after a note was received threatening staff in the contact centre.
While the situation at both Victoria and Massey were resolved within the day, a police presence continued at Otago.
Victoria Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford said the incidents were unrelated. Speaking on Wednesday, Guilford said “as a University we were very alert today, as were other universities, because of the incident in Otago… It is unlikely in my view that they are connected, other than the fact that they could all be copy-catting”.
Tertiary Education Union National Secretary Sharn Riggs claimed New Zealand universities “shouldn’t have to put up with an atmosphere of fear”.
“Even without anything eventuating from them, they undermine people’s sense that New Zealand tertiary education institutions are safe, welcoming, collegial spaces,” Riggs said.
This is not the first threat received at Victoria. An anonymous bomb threat was made against the Easterfield building in March 2012, which saw some classes cancelled and police conduct an on-campus investigation.
In the 2012 case, the threat was made via email to a generic university email account.
A Central Communications Acting Inspector Bruce Mackay claimed at the time, “I’m not quite sure why you’d threaten the university… I really can’t understand the rationale of some people.”