ANN ARBOR, Mich, (FOX 2) - A University of Michigan sorority has issued an apology after a team-building activity involving popping balloons set off a false active shooter alert last weekend.
The U-M chapter of alpha Kappa Delta Phi apologized a letter on The Michigan Daily's website on Sunday for an incident last Saturday that caused the school to go on lock down. The sorority explained they were holding a bonding event that involved team-building activities, including popping balloons. The event happened at the same time as a vigil in the Diag for people killed in the New Zealand mosque shooting.
The popping balloons caused dozens of people to call 911 to report a shooter on campus. The university tweeted a warning of an active shooter in Mason Hall, instructing people to "run, hide, fight." Students barricaded themselves taking cover as police put Mason Hall and its adjoining buildings on lockdown.
After about an hour, police confirmed the reports were unfounded -- the cause of the chaos was about a dozen girls popping balloons and yelling.
Just over a week later, the sorority issued an apology on the Michigan Daily's website.
"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."
The letter goes on to acknowledge their delay in responding to what happened.
"A 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."