Picture this: Typical Sunday evening, I am planning the size of popcorn I will take at the cinema when I go watch “The Martian.”
After following Matt Damon’s endeavours of growing potatoes on Mars, I go home to discover an anonymous threat has been posted on a social media network called Jodel, and the threat is directed at Lund University and its students. The post eerily resembles the one posted just before the tragic Oregon shooting.
No. No way. Am I still in Sweden? How does this work? I am not prepared to cope.
A lot of questions are popping up in my head; I am talking to my classmates and everyone seems not only confused but truly uncomfortable. Is it a joke of terribly poor taste? Or is it real? Should we be scared? But this is Sweden, ‘things like that don’t happen here.’ The biggest questions on my mind were: But why? Why are schools increasingly becoming playgrounds for violence? Who is it that’s the real target here? Or is this just sick exhibitionism?
No answer there.
The Swedish media was suddenly overflowing with news about the anonymous threat. Suddenly, I felt like growing potatoes on Mars. With unease, I went to bed and abandoned the idea of deciding immediately whether or not to go to school on Monday morning. I’ll deal with it when I wake up.
Some time around 1am, I, along with 50 000 other students at Lund University received an SMS with the notification that the University will be closed on Monday 12 October. The SMS was sent from the University itself to all current students. The phone numbers were acquired from the university’s database of students.
The University had held a crisis meeting on Sunday afternoon and decided to close it for the whole day on Monday – a rare occurrence in Lund University’s history reserved for only the most serious of situations. It was announced that the University is closely co-operating with the police on finding the person who issued the threat and solving the situation.
Despite the fact that nothing was solved yet, receiving this SMS, seeing that the University is taking this seriously and caring about the safety of its students and staff certainly brought a sense of security and relief to me.
They didn’t take a chance on this. They didn’t dare take a chance on our safety and for that they have a thankful bunch of 50 000 students and staff.
Instead of my usual morning routine that involved getting up early, finding a cozy library seat and drinking coffee while researching enticing law issues, I didn’t leave my home that morning. All I saw through the window was that most of my neighbourhood did the same. No bicycles rushing to school, no running for the bus, no bustle in the hallways.
Word of the day: uncomfortable.
All those questions from before keep spinning in my head. How’s everyone feeling? What is everyone doing today? Are they like me, tried to study from home, cook an insane amount of food to keep occupied?
Situations like these make you wonder and re-examine your priorities, whether you like it or not. Things that usually take up all your worries suddenly don’t play such an important role in your life. It’s cliché, yes, absolutely. But it doesn’t make it any less true. For most of the day I had forgotten about my looming essay deadline.
Luckily, nothing had happened. No one was hurt. We were lucky. And like many times before when a tragic shooting happens on campuses, I wonder: why would anyone want to hurt university students and staff? What’s the end goal? That is beyond me.
What happened on Monday was essentially a reflection of today’s internet culture where people with bad intentions and a poor taste in jokes can use the Internet to spread hatred and fear while hiding behind anonymity. What we found out later on was that the police discovered that there was no actual threat to the university students and staff whatsoever. Everything went back to normal, and Lund stayed the cosiest, safest student city I have ever been to.
Now I am writing this blog post from my cozy library spot, drinking my morning cup of coffee and immersing myself into the fascinating world of law, happy because, once more, Lund University conquered my heart and this time it did so with its uncompromising attitude towards violence.