A timeline of events since rally, Twitter threats on Nov. 17

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By: Yuri Smishkewych | Published on Nov. 25, 2015

In so far, here are the events that occurred on the night of Nov. 17 and in the days following the threats made against Kean students on Twitter.

Nov. 17

9:30 p.m. About ten Kean students gathered peacefully at the clock tower in response to the “racial injustices happening on campus as well as nationally,” said Kristal Noyan, one of the rally organizers and president of the Kean Pan-African Student Union (PASU), adding that there were no faculty present at the protest. The protest was not organized by PASU, she said. 

10:00 p.m. Kean police were observed in the area of the gathering, Noyan said.

10:13 p.m. The first of several life-threatening posts were made by an anonymous (@keanuagainstblk) account on Twitter. The violent threats were made towards black students at Kean and also stated that a bomb was on campus.

10:30-11 p.m. In the following half-hour, the Twitter threats were re-posted by concerned students. On-campus, dozens more protesters joined the rally, which moved from the clock tower to the quads (the courtyard which Kean’s four oldest dorms surround), Noyan said.

Multiple witnesses present at the rally claim that racial slurs were yelled at them from the adjacent dorms surrounding the quads. Kean spokeswomen Margaret McCorry said that police did not receive any complaints or reports of derogatory remarks yelled from the dorms at the protesters.

10:57 p.m.  Kean police put out their first Tweet stating,“We are aware of the situation on Twitter and it is being looked into.”

In the following hours, multiple posts appeared on the Kean police Twitter page criticizing the lack of communication between Kean University and its community members.

11:06 p.m. Student Government President Nigel Donald posted on Twitter, “I’m asking Kean students as your student leader to not attend classes tomorrow as recent threats have been made against the campus.”

Nov. 18

12:32 a.m. Kean University (@KeanUniversity) posts that the “threatening tweets are under investigation by @kupolice. Protest on campus is peaceful.”

12:37 a.m. Kean police responded to the @KeanUniversity Tweet and added that an investigation is underway and that “additional reports to our dispatch aren’t needed.”

2:27 a.m. A campus alert is issued by Kean University. All those in the campus community within the campus alerts system, which utilizes texting and voicemail, are notified of the online threats. An e-mail blast from Kean police was also sent around this time.

5:42 a.m. Kean police send out a second security alert, which informs the Kean community via email that classes will be held as scheduled, adding that we respect your right to use your own best judgment in deciding whether or not to come to campus” and that there will be heightened levels security throughout the day and through the remainder of the week.

By 10:00 a.m., regional news media is observed on campus and Kean’s usually packed parking lots are visibly empty.

Noon. Members of the Kean community including administrators, students, police and the media, congregated in front of the clock tower.

1:00 p.m. Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi speaks to students and the media at the clock tower. Following his speech, Farahi sends out his first statement via email to all students, faculty and staff.

A coalition of ministers led by Rev. Ronald Slaughter, senior pastor of Saint James AME Church in Newark, called for Farahi to resign, according to NJ Advance Media.

Throughout the day classrooms are sparse as many students chose not to attend classes; some faculty members canceled their classes for that day.

Evening. The news at Kean reaches national and international newswires including the Associated Press and Reuters and is televised on multiple media outlets in the tri-state area.

Nov. 21-22

Throughout the weekend the campus remained on heightened security levels, Farahi said in a statement on Nov. 20. Farahi issues two consecutive statements via email on Nov. 20 and Nov. 21 and advises students that the Twitter threats are still under investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. 

Nov. 23

At a 90-minute meeting organized by State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) in Trenton, legislators and officials—including President Farahi and the Rev. Ronald Slaughter— met behind closed-doors to discuss the allegations made by the coalition of ministers against Farahi, Rev. told The Tower.

The group decided that the Board of Trustees, Kean’s final governing body, should vote at their next meeting whether an independent investigation would take place which would look into the school’s hiring and firing processes and how money is spent on African American students, Rev. Slaughter told The Tower. On Nov. 25, McCorry declined to confirm whether the group decided that such a resolution would be voted upon by the Trustees at their next meeting.

“Dr. Farahi and members of Kean University Board of Trustees had the opportunity to dialogue today on an important subject – social justice – and the dialogue will continue,” McCorry said in an e-mail on Nov. 25.

The next Trustees meeting will take place on Dec. 5 at the Kean Ocean campus in the Gateway Building at Ocean County College in Toms River.

5:12 p.m. Farahi issues his fourth statement via email to all students, faculty and staff stating that the Union County Prosecutor’s office is continuing the investigation into the source of the anonymous Twitter account. He stated that he’s in daily contact with the Prosecutor’s office and will update, students, faculty and staff when authorized to do so. He reiterates that the campus will remain on heightened security.

Dec. 1

1:20 p.m. In an email to the Kean community, Dr. Farahi announced that the Union County Prosecutor has charged former Kean student Kayla-Simone McKelvey, 24, with creating a false public alarm.

According to the announcement, McKelvey was a participant at the student protest on Nov. 17 who momentarily left the rally to use a computer station at the university library from where she allegedly created the Twitter account (@keanuagainstblk) on which numerous life-threatening Tweets to members of the Kean community where made.

This post will be updated as new events unfold.

This post has been updated to reflect new information. 

Rebecca Panico contributed to this report. 

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One comment

  • Who chose to start a protest at 9:30 p.m.? There’s low visibility should any violence arise. People are likely to be sleeping or studying. Not the best time. Police and University authorities would be in their right minds if they found that kind of activity suspicious – as possibly a cover for other less benevolent activities or as posing a greater possibility for mishap. Whose idea was it?