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Penn Public Safety sent an email on Feb. 23 alerting the Penn community of an anonymous email sent to administrators threatening violence to campus. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Penn's Division of Public Safety notified community members of an anonymous email threatening violence sent to University administrators on Friday, which was determined to be an "unsubstantiated" threat.  

DPS notified students around 3 p.m. that an email containing "hateful rhetoric based on religion and political affiliation" was sent to certain Penn community members earlier in the afternoon. Penn Police and law enforcement concluded that the threat was "not credible," with DPS stating that several other institutions across the country received an identical message. The Daily Pennsylvanian could not verify the contents of the email or who it was sent to.

DPS told the DP in a statement that they maintain regular contact with other higher education institutions on issues of safety and security. After learning that Penn community members had received threatening messages, DPS said that they were "forearmed with the knowledge that similar messages had been today by educational institutions across the country, including many of our peers in higher education." 

DPS wrote in the statement that "swatting" — the act of making hoax calls to emergency services — is a national trend that frequently affects many different areas, including education. 

"We wanted to alert our community about these messages to prevent concern and alarm," DPS said. 

Members of the Dartmouth College and Cornell University communities received similar messages on Friday regarding “an anonymous email threatening violence that used hateful rhetoric based on religion and national origin." Hanover Police Department Captain Jim Martin told The Cornell Daily Sun that the threat to Dartmouth community members warned of a potential active shooter and followed email templates that had been seen circulating across other universities. 

According to Cornell's Associate Vice President for Public Safety David Honan, the threats especially targeted “Jewish, Israeli, Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students, faculty and staff.” Cornell Police are currently investigating the origins of the threat.

In its message to the Penn community, DPS encouraged students to contact Penn Police if they receive a similar threat or concerning message.