ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — A sorority at the University of Michigan apologized for popping balloons that set off a false active shooter alarm.
The University of Michigan chapter of alpha Kappa Delta Phi published the open apology on the Michigan Daily.
In the letter, the sorority said members planned a bonding event with time-building activities, one of which involved popping balloons.
"We are truly sorry to everyone who feared for their lives and had to experience the traumatic events of that day, especially to our fellow Muslim students and all those who were present at the New Zealand Mosques Solidarity Vigil," the sorority said.
Police say that they were having a vigil for the victims in the New Zealand shootings on the Diag and perhaps balloons got popped, which scared an already alert crowd.
The active shooter alert went out on Saturday, March 16. The university tweeted an emergency alert urging students and staff near Mason Hall to run, hide and fight. Minutes later, the university confirmed on Twitter that there was an active shooter inside Mason Hall and instructed people to remain calm, take shelter, silence phones, turn off lights and stay quiet.
The university's president, Mark Schlissel, responded to the campus's reaction to the emergency alert, stating that there were "deficiencies" in the school's overall emergency response.
"While many aspects of our response went according to plan, we uncovered deficiencies in the activation of our emergency alert system and the distribution of accurate information and instructions that will need to be corrected immediately," Schlissel wrote in a statement. "Though we later found no active threat to our campus, the fear is no less real. I have heard from many students, faculty and staff that the reports of gunfire were terrifying. The traumatic incident affected and continues to affect many people in our community in a deeply personal way.
Schlissel's full response can be found here.
Read aKDPhi's full apology letter below:
To our fellow students at the University of Michigan, the University of Michigan Chapter of alpha Kappa Delta Phi would like to sincerely apologize for the events that took place last Saturday as a result of our actions. Last week, a group of our members had planned a bonding event that involved team-building activities, including one that involved popping balloons that set off the false shooter alert. We are truly sorry to everyone who feared for their lives and had to experience the traumatic events of that day, especially to our fellow Muslim students and all those who were present at the New Zealand Mosques Solidarity Vigil. It is unacceptable to merely pass off our actions as a poorly timed coincidence. To do so would be to ignore the politically-charged atmosphere that day and the many serious events on campus that preceded the false alarm. Failure to acknowledge these circumstances would only further enable us to benefit from the privilege that comes with a lack of understanding about the real dangers and fears that many of our fellow peers, students of color and Muslim students live with on a day to day basis. We also want to acknowledge our silence and delay in responding to the events of last week. As part of a large and diverse community of color, we understand that everyone perceives and processes traumatic events in different ways and at different speeds. We have used this past week to not only process our feelings of guilt and disbelief, but to also reflect on our mistakes and take responsibility for our actions by reaching out to members of our immediate communities. We take this event as a stark realization that we need to further educate ourselves about Islamophobia, white supremacy and what it means to use our position as A/PIA students to participate in more meaningful coalition building on campus. Moving forward, we are committed to standing together in solidarity with our fellow Muslim students and marginalized communities on campus by holding necessary conversations and taking the right steps towards being more cognizant of our actions. While our words cannot undo the trauma that was experienced that day, we will use Saturday’s events as a way to further educate ourselves more about social justice and to empower and uplift our fellow Muslim community and communities of color. Respectfully, The University of Michigan Chapter of alpha Kappa Delta Phi