CHICAGO (CBS) — Students at the University of Chicago were being told to stay home Monday, after all classes and activities were canceled due to a threat to the Hyde Park campus.

University President Robert Zimmer said the FBI was investigating an online threat of gun violence against the university, specifically mentioning the “campus quad” at 10 a.m. on Monday.

“Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday,” Zimmer said in a statement on the university’s website.

Students and faculty were told via email and text to avoid coming to campus, or to stay indoors as much as possible if they are on campus. Students were told to consult csl.uchicago.edu for additional information.

The university said there would be an increased police and security presence on campus, including officers carrying visible weapons.

Students and staff were taking the threat seriously, as the campus was very quiet Monday morning, aside from the heavy police presence.

“I was concerned. I think everybody was, but I don’t know, I can’t tell how realistic it actually is,” grad student Carly Bertrand said. “I think they’re trying to make sure everybody is safe. I think it also sends a lot of fear around.”
One teacher said he canceled office hours on Monday, and planned to stay home.

“I won’t come in. … They say it’s about the quad. I hope that people stay away far enough, because it’s not very specific as to how localized the threat is, and since the campus is pretty big, I guess I’ll just stay at home, which is in neighborhood, but it’s not too close to campus,” said Matthias Staisch, an instructor with the university’s Committee on International Relations. “It’s unsettling, but again, right, we’ve become, I think, quite used to this, unfortunately, and we don’t know anything about the motivation behind this, if it is a credible threat. We don’t know who these people are who are threatening this campus.”

Faculty member Teddy Cho said, even though he was advised to work from home, he felt more comfortable working at his office on campus.

“I do want to make that clear. They told me to stay home,” he said.

CBS Security Consultant Ross Rice, a former FBI agent, said if the threat was posted through email or a social media account, it should be fairly easy for investigators to trace the threat back to whoever posted it.

“I’m sure my former colleagues will have the person that made that threat identified, and possibly in custody, in short order,” he said.

FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde said, “Upon learning of a possible threat, we shared information with law enforcement and University officials, as is our practice. The decision to cancel classes was made by the University. Our investigation to determine the source of the online threat is ongoing.”

The university also closed its libraries, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, four charter schools operated by the university, the Quadrangle Club, and other campus facilities on Monday.

The Catholic Theological Union and St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School in Hyde Park also were closed on Monday due to the threat at the University of Chicago.

The University of Chicago Medical Center remained open to patients on Monday, with additional security measures in place.

Anyone who sees anything unusual or who “have urgent questions about security measures” were asked to contact the University of Chicago Police Department at 773-702-8181.