March 28, 2023
Dear parent and family members,
Your student may have let you know about the message below, which came from President Cruzado over the weekend. As the President writes, it’s been a difficult semester, and the university community has responded to two situations involving threats of violence. As always, we are making concerted efforts to help keep your student safe and make them aware of support services available across campus. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Matthew R. Caires
Dear MSU Community,
For the last few weeks, our campus has been dealing with several difficult situations -- as maybe some of you have been experiencing in your individual lives. As we start the last six weeks of the spring semester, I'm writing to extend my support and encouragement and to ask for your help.
We at Montana State University have been devoting deliberate attention, time and care to situations that might have come to your attention. For the purpose of this message, let me focus on two cases.
In one instance, an email containing a threat was sent on Feb. 16 to the general inbox of the MSU student group Queer Straight Alliance (QSA), coinciding with an off-campus event. Law-enforcement officers immediately provided assistance on the evening of that particular off-campus event, as well as at other QSA events that have taken place since.
Thankfully, we know that at the time, based on the analysis of university and city police as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it was determined that the Feb. 16 email did not represent a credible threat of violence for individuals or for the MSU community at large. We also learned that the email address attempted to masquerade as being from Turning Point, a political action group whose campus representatives disavowed, in writing, the content of the Feb. 16 email. We are grateful for the professionalism and diligence of law enforcement agencies. While the analysis determined that a Timely Warning Notification to the campus was not necessary, the Feb.16 email continues to be investigated by the appropriate agencies at the local and federal levels. When found, charges will be filed against the responsible author (or authors), as determined by law.
We decry communications that contain threats because, whether they represent real or perceived harm, their inimical language erodes the community spirit that we treasure at Montana State University.
A second and unrelated event took place two weeks later, in which allegedly, in the context of an argument, a student made a verbal threat against members of Young Americans for Liberty, a student political group that was holding an event on campus. Three officers from University Police immediately responded to the area and determined that the situation did not constitute a credible threat. It is still worth noting that, as a community, we have agreed to denounce violence and disruption in our student code of conduct, the document in which we have outlined what we expect as acceptable standards of behavior and engagement when we are on campus.
My heart goes out to all individuals who have been impacted by these specific situations as well as to others who are undergoing challenging circumstances in their lives, maybe provoked by events of a similar nature. Words have power; we can and should always use our words for good, but the choice is ultimately an individual one.
If you are experiencing distress or strong emotions, please know that Montana State University has well-established resources to help. I urge you to look at these resources not as offices, but as places where truly committed professionals are standing ready to assist. You can find more information about how to link students to a vast array of support services across campus, starting at the MSU Counseling & Psychological Services, Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons (DISC), Dean of Students CARE Program, and the Women's Center. For anyone experiencing immediate distress or crisis, there is 24/7 support available by calling or texting 988.
Snow has been blanketing us this weekend and it makes me think that nature affords a good opportunity for reflection: It has been a long and cold winter in Bozeman. Yes. But spring is just around the corner.
As we start to glimpse the finish line for this semester, I want to reiterate my support and encouragement to our students, faculty and staff -- particularly to those individuals who have suffered from hurt and distress and to others who need an expression of our solidarity.
But I also want to expand that circle of support an encouragement to include the whole campus and, therefore, I am asking for your help: Let's gift each other our grace and acceptance. No matter what we see on the exterior, each person bears their own unique burden as best as they can. Likewise, each person -- every single one -- also carries gifts and talents that broaden our understanding, deepen our wisdom and enrich our daily lives. Let's keep focusing on those diverse gifts and let's keep choosing to help each other.
The MSU community is characterized by its Bobcat pride and friendliness. For 130 years, we have built a strong university that values excellence, integrity and inclusion.
Spring is a time for renewal: I know our sense of belonging, empathy and care will be born anew everyday as we cross the line of this semester and head for the long days of summer that await us. Thank you for being part of our community.