Kent State's message is pretty clear when it comes to threats, serious or otherwise: "we're not gonna play."
Kent State University spokesman Eric Mansfield talked about safety on the main and regional campus locations following the arraignment of William Koberna, 19, for threats posted on Twitter to "shoot up" the campus, along with threats aimed at Kent President Lester Lefton.
"If someone wants to say something like this, we're going to take it seriously and the police are going to investigate and if warranted file criminal charges," Mansfield said. He noted parents of elementary school children taking part in programs on the Kent campus Monday were calling the University with concerns over safety on hearing the news Monday. "Anybody that's going to say something like this, we're not going to take this as a joke. Just like the TSA doesn't play when someone mentions bombs at airports, we're not going to play when someone mentions violence on our campus."
Koberna was arrested without incident at his parent's Brunswick home Sunday and charged with felony inducing panic and a misdemeanor aggravated menacing charge. He was ordered held on $50,000 bond, and on release from the Portage County Jail must wear a GPS tracking device to be sure he honors a court ruling to stay off campus and not contact Lefton.
Mansfield says monitoring and review of social media is part of the University's policy to assure the safety of the student, faculty, staff and visitors to Kent State facilities. An employee of the University spotted the post on Twitter last Friday evening and immediately notified the University police department. They, in turn, contacted Twitter to determine the identity of the account holder since the posting came under a pseudonym. Once Koberna's name was obtained, police spoke with him Saturday evening and decided to file charges Sunday.
"Everybody's on edge, certainly in the higher education community after seeing what we saw at Virginia Tech, and Northern Illinois University, what we've seen on the high school campuses of Chardon and as well as Columbine. Everybody's very in tune with the chatter that's out there," Mansfield said. "Even before what happened in Aurora."
Mansfield said students and faculty are urged to contact authorities when seeing any threat, regardless of whether they think it's someone just blowing off steam or kidding around.
"Nobody wants to be worried when you're on a college campus," Mansfield added. "Who knows what could have happened had something materialized out of a tweet like this and we had not seen it coming."