A student walks by the Harvard University campus, where authorities this morning ordered an evacuation due to a bomb threat. Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro
A report of explosives placed at various Harvard University buildings set off a massive response to the Cambridge campus, caused the evacuation of several areas and disrupted final exams for many students on Monday.
The report ultimately ended up being unfounded after authorities spent nearly six hours searching each of the four buildings specifically mentioned in a threat. Harvard announced that the last of the buildings had been cleared and was safe for reentry just before 3 p.m.
Authorities had not commented on the investigation or whether they believe the threat was a hoax as of Monday afternoon.
However, in a statement, University Executive Vice President Katie Lapp said that the Harvard University Police Department, along with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, were investigating the incident to determine who is responsible.
The campus chaos was started when an e-mail was sent to the Harvard University Police Department and others that said explosives maybe hidden at four buildings, said Lapp. No devices were found.
"Safeguarding our community in this instance unfortunately required the disruption of exams and the evacuation of one of our freshman dormitories," Lapp said.
Alerts were first sent out by Harvard just after 9 a.m. warning people of "unconfirmed reports of explosives at four sites on campus." The four buildings specified and evacuated were Emerson, Sever and Thayer halls and the Science Center. Although the report was unconfirmed, the university said that "out of an abundance of caution" the buildings were evacuated.
Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies responded to the scene. Bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in to search the buildings and access to Harvard Yard was restricted to only students with identification.
As the day went on, the buildings and Harvard Yard were eventually reopened, with the Science Center being the last to reopen just before 3 p.m.
Most final exams scheduled to take place in the afternoon went on as scheduled or were relocated. Students who had their final exams canceled because of the threat would receive guidance about how they would proceed, the college said.