The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
It was an unsettling string of words to see pop up on your iPhone screen on a Thursday evening, as the quiet of a cold day took over Miami’s sidewalks. All across campus, the same email was opened and the same, stoic words were read. Some may have browsed the short message once or twice with a twinge of shock. Some may have looked around, unsure of what may happen next and others confidently put their phones back into their pockets — because things like that don’t really happen at Miami.
Now that the weekend has passed, we are glad our campus is safe and we are grateful the necessary steps were taken to secure Hughes Hall.
But we, at The Miami Student, are confused. We appreciate the three emails we received, but what about what has happened since Friday? As the Miami community received reports about a bomb threat aimed at Hughes Hall at the end of last week, there was a small window of worry and then, it seemed, it was over.
When students received a second email on Friday afternoon, probably while putting the final touches on their Halloween costumes, there weren’t too many concerned faces seen around campus. And sure, it was easy to dismiss the threat as a prank, easy to blame it on some childish student trying to get out of a science exam.
But as journalists, the Editorial Board had a different response. We closed that email and we were met with a flood of questions, ones regarding the safety of thousands of people, ones that, as much as we tried, we could not answer. During this situation and in the days afterward, the communication has been sub-par and frustrating to us, as students and as people who are trying to do their jobs. That dismissive reaction so popular among our peers was based on blatant assumption. There was no confirmation that we could go about our lives as normal, something we craved to deliver to our student body.
Several members of our staff persistently reached out to Miami University Police and University Communications, wanting to know the nature of this bomb threat and what the search committee had found and if students should be weary of being on campus. Simple, important questions when word of a bomb is on the table.
One of our editors even walked to Hughes, not knowing if the area was truly dangerous enough to warrant avoiding, and sought answers from police officers on the scene. He approached a MUPD car, seeing an officer’s face peeking out the window, and calmly asked for details only to be met with a curt response and the sharp sight of the window rolling up.
The Miami community is relying on us to not only seek this information out, but also to find it and report it. We hold ourselves to a professional standard, but we are nothing without facts. And in search of those, we got unreturned phone calls and doors in our faces.
We are Miami’s (and Oxford’s) most prominent news source, and we need to be taken seriously, even if we’re wearing a backpack. This is not how journalists or the community should be treated. In fact, it’s the exact sort of behavior we have been taught to deem as unconstitutional. If you’ve heard of a thing called the freedom of the press, it was not at work here at Miami last week.
We understand the process of an open investigation and the implications of safety concerns, but why did we not receive more information about this incident? We have a long list of questions we would love answers to, but we never even got the chance. Even if this was a simple Halloween prank, something students quickly laughed off and thought, “things like this don’t happen here,” Miami students, staff and faculty should’ve been kept informed. And we would’ve liked a chance to do that.