Letter from USU President Albrecht and Provost Cockett
Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014
Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,
As you are aware, several USU staff members received a threatening email at 10:15 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 13 regarding Anita Sarkeesian’s talk scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 15. As you probably have read, this email threatened both Ms. Sarkeesian and those who attended her event.
The safety of our students, staff and USU community is paramount to us. USU police were contacted immediately, as were state and federal agencies, including the Utah Statewide Information and Analysis Center, the FBI Cyber Terrorism Task Force, and the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit.
Prior to the threat, USU police were already making preparations for security as Ms. Sarkeesian had received threats in the past. After receiving the email, USU police added heightened security measures, including securing the Taggart Student Center auditorium far in advance, ensuring her safety to and from the event, and bringing in additional uniformed and plain-clothed police officers.
Throughout the day, Tuesday, Oct. 14, USU police and administrators worked with state and federal law enforcement agencies to assess the threat to our USU community and Ms. Sarkeesian. Together, we determined that there was no credible threat to students, staff or the speaker, and that this letter was intended to frighten the university into cancelling the event.
The safety and protection of students and those who attend our events is our foremost priority at Utah State. But we are also an institution of higher learning. In this case, the Center for Women and Gender had invited a nationally known speaker to bring her perspective about an important topic to USU. After a full assessment of the situation, the USU administration, in consultation with law enforcement, chose to continue with the event.
When our law enforcement personnel spoke about security measures, she was concerned that state law prevented the university from keeping people with legal concealed firearm permits from entering the event, and chose to cancel. As a Utah public institution, we follow state law. The Utah law provides that people who legally possess a concealed firearm permit are allowed to carry a firearm on public property, like the USU campus.
We are disappointed that students and other community members did not benefit from her presentation. While we will always prioritize the safety of our community, no threat changes Utah State University’s unwavering advocacy of academic freedom and free speech rights of everyone.
Stan L. Albrecht, President
Noelle Cockett, Vice-President and Provost