Students at Rutgers University got a rude/terrifying start to their day today when, around 9:45 a.m., administrators sent out a mass text reading, "Armed suspect in area of alexander library. Seek a safe place and shield/secure your location."

If readers got that far before pissing themselves and flipping over the nearest carrel, a line break was followed by the words "TEST TEST." Several minutes later, apparently realizing this may not have been the best syntax, the great minds in Rutgers security sent another text reading, "End training scenario...End training scenario alexander library."

In case that wasn't clear enough, it was followed by another clarification ending, "there is no threat to the Campus."

Reactions were mixed, but people were mostly gobsmacked online:

As many who received the alert noted:

Indeed, a Department of Homeland Security guide including best practices for active shooter drills states that non-employees at institutions don't necessarily have to participate in the drills, and that, "All drills and exercises should be announced prior to conducting them."

The National Association of School Psychologists has a primary-school-focused guide to the drills that states planners should "take into consideration prior traumatic experiences" and that "participation should never be mandatory."

It turns out that Rutgers did email students yesterday evening to tell them that "training exercises" would be happening "in and around" the library and that they should expect "an increased Public Safety presence." The gun-wielding lunatic on the loose component wasn't mentioned.

"When I got the text I said to myself, 'Man, they are going to freak out a lot of people who deleted that warning email without reading it,'" doctoral student and adjunct professor Evan Casper-Futterman said.

Invoking last weekend's massacre at an Orlando gay club, Casper-Futterman, whose parents are gay, decried militaristic responses to acts like it in an impassioned Facebook post:

My parents grew up with the duck and cover drills of the cold war. My parents grew up with the State denying their existence in most cases, and in rare instances of allowing for their visibility, labelled them deviants and mentally ill.


What in the flying fuck makes people want their children to grow up in a world where 1) there is an omnipresent reality of mass violence that far surpasses the threat of nuclear annihilation and 2) in which the response to this omnipresent reality of mass violence is to ratchet up the stakes?

Others had more light-hearted responses:

In any case, it seems that Rutgers admins are rethinking the phrasing of their mass texts going forward.

"We recognize that the wording of the initial message caused some concern and alarm amongst recipients; however the message was sent only to test the University's Emergency Notification System," said Michael Rein, deputy chief of university police, in a statement to reporters. "University Public Safety will be making necessary changes to protocols for future training exercises."