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: September 28, 2023

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):California State University, Fresno

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 28, 2023, California State University, Fresno (CSU, Fresno) received notification of two bomb threats: one directed at on-campus residence and dining halls, and the other at the home of Ida Jones, a business and finance professor at the university. The threats, which were found uncredible, came after a series of social media posts criticizing Jones’ policy on pronouns.

On September 27, the online group LibsofTikTok posted a series of social media messages that included screenshots reportedly of one of Jones’s assignments which asked students to state their preferred pronouns. The post also cited a review of one of Jones’s courses from the website RateMyProfessor, an open access website on which individuals can post reviews and ratings of courses, that claimed “professor Jones removed a large amount of points on an assignment because I didn’t address my pronouns (which I don’t believe in).” According to the Anti-Defamation League, LibsofTikTok is a “popular anti-LGBTQ+ Twitter account.” This was the second threatening incident linked to LibsofTikTok in September 2023 (see report).

The following day, unidentified individuals emailed the two bomb threats to CSU, Fresno and to the local media. The university evacuated areas of its campus that were mentioned in the email, but announced that the rest of the campus would remain open as normal. Some professors decided to hold classes online as a safety precaution. No bombs were found and the bomb threats were later deemed a hoax.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about threats aimed at intimidating the high education community and disrupting classes and campus life. Such actions undermine academic freedom and university autonomy. State and university authorities should take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable.