SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 31, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Various Institutions

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Beginning on January 31, 2022, more than a dozen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) throughout the United States began receiving a wave of bomb threats, disrupting classes and forcing law enforcement to respond.

The threats, which appear to have been timed to coincide with the start of Black History Month, in February, targeted a range of institutions, including Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland; Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi; Mississippi Valley State University in Bena, Mississippi; Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland; Alcorn University in Lorman, Mississippi; Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi; Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky; Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Georgia; Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana; University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C.; Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia; and Edward Waters University in Jacksonville, Florida.

The threats led to a range of precautionary responses, including campus-wide lockdowns, cancellation of classes, and classes being switched to online.  

Scholars at Risk is concerned about targeted, violent, and racist threats aimed at intimidating members of the higher education community and disrupting classes and campus life. Threats aimed at intimidating racial minorities on campus undermine academic freedom, university autonomy, and equitable access overall. Federal, state, and university authorities should take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. In addition to the harm to the targets, such threats undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.