March 5, 2018
To the Campus Community,
Following the horrific shooting on February 14 in Parkland, Florida and the subsequent posting of a video on Snapchat that showed a gun on campus on February 16, individuals in our campus community were understandably shaken and fearful.
We have been actively listening to the campus community in the wake of the Snapchat video, which was a malicious deception by an employee of GardaWorld Armored Truck Transport. One thing we heard was many wished we would have alerted the campus sooner in the investigation of the video and that we should have disseminated more broadly my follow-up message from February 19. I agree and have asked pertinent colleagues to make changes in how we approach and communicate about social media posts that are potential threats.
We heard that many would like more information about the details of the events of the morning that the Snapchat video was posted. To that end, a summary of the incident and our response is available here.
Some students questioned the use of the word “hoax” in our description of the Snapchat video. In law enforcement, “hoax” is most often used to indicate malicious deception. Certainly, at no time was our use of the word “hoax” intended to trivialize the genuine concerns that individuals had about the potential threat.
We also heard that we need to remind the campus of the protocol of what would have happened if this had been an active shooter or life-threatening crisis. To that end, CSUN has a number of resources listed on the Emergency Preparedness and Management website. Everyone receives an email from me with the Emergency Desk Reference each semester — please familiarize yourself with these resources. CSUN Police, in partnership with our Department of Cinema and Television Arts, created a powerful active shooter preparedness video and other resources that everyone should review. We regularly test our Emergency Operations Plan, and I am confident our highly trained CSUN Police is prepared to respond in times of crisis.
We have learned that, in the wake of this incident, hundreds of Twitter bots were pushing out tweets to drive traffic to two news sites known for propagating fake or false news. This is something we will study, as it is a disturbing trend that social media networks are attempting to combat.
Since the February 16 incident, CSUN Police has been working with the Los Angeles City Attorney to file charges against the individual who caused such fear and consternation. In addition, we have been in regular contact with GardaWorld, which informed us that the individual is no longer employed with the company.
I want to again thank and recognize the members of the campus community who informed us of the video. We all play an important role in reporting suspicious or alarming activity to CSUN Police — whether you see something in person or on social media. In an emergency, you should call 911 or (818) 677-2111 for non-emergencies. I appreciate the time that people, especially our students, took to share their experience and their recommendations on how we can improve in similar circumstances.
CSUN Police and CSUN’s leadership team care deeply about the physical and mental well-being of our campus community. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure CSUN has a safe environment in which to learn and thrive. We invite your recommendations about campus safety and related communications. Your ideas can be directed to Chief Glavin at
Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D.