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'We remain vigilant and aware': XULA president responds to recent bomb threats to school

Dr. Reynod Verret, president of the Xavier University of Louisiana, has responded to the recent bomb threats against the school this week and in early January.

(The Advocate/Max Becherer)

Xavier Univesity of Louisiana's president, Dr. Reynold Verret, has released an official statement on the recent bomb threats to the school, the most recent of which were received on February 1st alongside a wave of similar incidents at HBCUs nationwide.

“Campus facilities were swept to identify suspicious devices,” he said in an email sent out to XULA students, employees, and alumni.

“By [the] grace of God, no device was found.”

All classes at the university went virtual after the threat was received early Tuesday morning around 5:30am CT. Students residing on campus were advised to shelter in place.

Prior to an all-clear given around noon, news reports revealed that at least a dozen other historically Black colleges and universities had also received threats, following a similar wave on Monday that included Southern University (located an hour away from New Orleans in Baton Rouge).

Appearing on CNN in an interview with Don Lemon on Tuesday night, Verret related that a threat XULA received included not only that of a bomb but also a mass shooting, according to one student at the school.

Verret also spoke with local media on Tuesday, highlighting the university’s solidarity with other schools that received threats.

Tuesday's threats were the third such mass incident in recent weeks, with Monday's being preceded by threats made to HBCUs in early January. XULA was also among the schools in that latter group.

All of the threats reported thus far have been found to be mere scare tactics.

“Though each threat did not result in credible danger, we must be even more attentive to each other and to our surroundings,” Verret said in his statement.

“We remain vigilant and aware.”

Tuesday’s threats came on the first day of Black History Month, a special day nationwide for the Black community in the United States, and especially among HBCUs, which intersect heavily with African-American history.

XULA itself is scheduled to hold its annual Black History Convocation later this month. The school maintains a unique status as the nation’s only Catholic HBCU, founded by St Katharine Drexel in 1925.

“It saddens me that we awakened to a threat on this day. Yet, we recall that we have overcome adversity then and do so now,” said Verret.

His sentiments were echoed by the wider XULA community, including a psychology professor who took to the internet to highlight the university’s continued resilience in the face of racially motivated adversity.

The FBI released a statement on Wednesday saying it is investigating the bomb threats as a hate crime, and as of Thursday morning has identified a half-dozen suspects thought to be juveniles with racist motives.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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