Skip to main content

Mnookin: Responding to campus threats

March 14, 2023

The following message from Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin was sent to all students, faculty and staff on March 13. 

​​Read this message in:

To our community,

In two recent, but separate incidents about which you may be aware, the University of Wisconsin Police Department (UWPD) has taken steps to quickly respond to serious threats against our students, faculty and staff.

In one case, UWPD was alerted to, responded, and assisted with an arrest after a report of threatening social media posts made off-campus. In another, quick action by UWPD led federal authorities to detain a former student upon his arrival in the United States because of online threats of violence he allegedly made against specific individuals in the UW–Madison community.

We are grateful to UWPD and other law enforcement agencies that worked together to protect the safety of our community.

UWPD has a long-established process and program designed to track, address and act on threats to students, faculty and staff of UW–Madison. Its recent actions were made possible by members of our community reporting their concerns, which is a crucial element of supporting our collective safety.

Threats of violence are always unacceptable, but they can be especially frightening in the current moment on our nation’s campuses. Nearly one month ago, three Michigan State University students were killed and multiple others were severely wounded in a campus shooting.

MSU is one of an ever-growing list of campus communities left to process grief and loss in the wake of senseless violence, including, just this academic year, Moscow, Idaho and Charlottesville, Virginia. This has occurred on too many campuses across the country.

Although statistically speaking, threatening situations are the exception, they are obviously an extremely serious concern for all of us. I wish I could tell you they felt rare. I also wish I could tell you that these events only happen at unprepared campuses, but that’s not true either. No one is completely immune, including my previous campus, which experienced a shooting in 2016.

What I can tell you is that there are dedicated people in multiple UW–Madison campus units, putting their best efforts into prevention, training and response. We also need the participation of our entire community in these important efforts.

We need your help to become familiar with how to respond in the event of an emergency and to ensure you receive emergency alerts.

If you are concerned about a student’s well-being, you can submit a student of concern form to the Dean of Students Office. If you are concerned about a potential threat to campus, please call UWPD at 608-264-COPS or 911 in an emergency. See our resources about when to reach out about troubled students, campus visitors or co-workers.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the toll that both violence and fear about potential violence takes on our collective mental health and again let you know that we have resources for those affected by this or any other situation to seek support and community:

I know these are difficult topics and this week is designed to be a break from the stresses of the spring semester. Thank you for helping us take care of one another.

Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin