Investigation Update on October Hate Incidents

Updated: Feb. 14, 2020, at 4:06 p.m.

The Office of Campus Security sent the following message to campus:

Now that the Spring Term is underway, we’d like to update you on our campus safety efforts in the wake of the hate-message incidents that took place in October.

No new incidents have occurred in more than three months. The investigation by the Elmhurst Police Department was active until very recently, when we were advised that, unless significant new information comes to light, the investigation will be effectively closed, with no suspect identified. The University’s internal investigation traveled a path similar to that of the Elmhurst police, and also has not concluded with the identification of a suspect.

When the incidents occurred, their resolution and impact on our students immediately became a priority for us. We committed time and resources toward both assisting in the criminal investigation and taking appropriate measures to ensure a safe campus.

We continue to prioritize safety at Elmhurst, and have been making improvements in how we protect and communicate with the campus community. We also have been providing resources and educational opportunities so that we all might become better prepared for a world in which, unfortunately, the potential always exists for incidents involving bias and hate.

Here are some of the steps we have taken:

  • We have reviewed our policies and procedures regarding emergency communications and notifications, and have worked to streamline our mass notification process.
  • We continue to maintain high visibility and to regularly patrol the residence halls and other campus housing.
  • We’ve added or upgraded security cameras in eight locations on campus, and are reviewing the potential installation of more.
  • We have been working more closely with resident assistants and the Office of Housing and Residence Life to ensure that all are receiving adequate training in recognizing and responding to concerning behavior.
  • We are ensuring that staff members are trained in effective bias incident response, and encouraging staff to report incidents of bias. Faculty and staff have been encouraged to attend Violent Encounter training sessions offered by our office. On Feb. 22, faculty will have the opportunity to engage with Campus Security in individual classroom and building security assessments.

If a suspect in the October hate incidents is identified, or if this kind of incident happens again, we will take the matter very seriously and will immediately engage the appropriate authorities. The matter also would be immediately investigated and subject to the appropriate disciplinary process.

This type of behavior is not and never will be welcome on our campus. Let’s address it as a community, where we look out for one another. Please be observant, and report any behavior that is bias- or hate-related by immediately contacting Campus Security at (630) 617-3000 or You may also fill out an incident form or utilize the Silent Witness form, or contact the Elmhurst Police Department directly at (630) 530-3050.

Thank you for your partnership and cooperation in keeping our campus safe.

University’s Ongoing Work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Updated: Feb. 11, 2020, at 5:06 p.m.

President Troy D. VanAken sent the following message to the University community:

This Spring Term, as we plunge into the day-to-day demands of classes, clubs, work and other activities, it’s important that we continue to pay attention to the things that are critical to our overall well-being. As individuals, that might mean making sure we’re getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well, or taking the time to enjoy friends and family.

As a campus, it means continuing to nurture an inclusive environment where we all can feel welcome, safe and supported. It is critical to our institutional well-being, and goes to the core of who we are.

Diversity, Inclusion and Responsible Citizenship, a pillar from our Strategic Plan, has been a major focus for the University this year. We’ve undertaken some meaningful work in this area, beginning this past August at our All-Employee Retreat, and continuing with initiatives by the Office of Student Affairs, Campus Security and the formation of the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (PACoDEI). The advisory council has been charged with developing recommendations on staffing, programming and a campus climate survey, and will share their recommendations later this spring.

In October, the campus experienced several hate incidents, and regardless of whether they ultimately result in arrests or prosecutions, they reaffirmed why the work we have been doing is so important and must continue. They also revealed the need for more conversations and more opportunities for engagement.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to meet with student leaders on campus, and also will seek out some dates and times for me, my Cabinet colleagues, PACoDEI members and others to be available to talk with you, and to listen. I encourage you to join us.

Please also consider attending some of the upcoming events that have been planned by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Niebuhr Center, the Chaplain’s Office, the Center for Scholarship and Teaching, and other areas across campus. I thank them for providing so many ways for us to learn and be inspired.

I hope you have a wonderful Spring Term, and I look forward to seeing you around campus.

Investigation Update on Hate Incidents

Updated: December 17, 2019, at 3:30 p.m.

The criminal case involving the hate-message incidents that took place on campus in October remains open and active. However, in order to ensure a thorough investigation, with the best chance of leading to a resolution, limited information has been made available for the University to share.

What we can say is that the investigation by Elmhurst police is ongoing and that officers and detectives are continuing to pursue leads that they have developed.

In the meantime, we have been maintaining a security presence in the affected areas, and are continuing to prioritize safety across campus. As part of this effort, Campus Security has been taking the following steps:

  • Researching the expanded use of cameras and emergency phones in key locations across campus
  • Increasing patrols in all residence halls and campus buildings
  • Continuing to offer Violent Intruder presentations (We offered 10 sessions in the fall and hope to see increased attendance at upcoming sessions in the spring)
  • Meeting with campus departments to explore additional safety measures

In addition, the Elmhurst Police Department has continued to proactively patrol campus throughout the day and night.

As a reminder, the Office of Campus Security encourages anyone with information related to these incidents to report it. Several options for reporting are available, including contacting Campus Security directly at (630) 617-3000 or emailing

Campus community members may also utilize the Silent Witness form for anonymous reporting or contact the Elmhurst Police Department directly at (630) 530-3050.

About Campus Warnings and Alerts

Updated: November 13, 2019, at 9:31 a.m.

The recent hate-message incidents on campus have raised an opportunity to review the use of timely warnings and alerts to help maintain a safe, secure campus.

To determine the most appropriate way to notify the campus community about a situation and course of action, each incident is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, using all available facts and information while also considering how to disseminate the notification in the most efficient, timely way possible.


In the event of a major safety incident, the Office of Campus Security will issue a timely warning through the EC-Alert system, a mass notification system that utilizes email, SMS text, phone calls, website updates, social media and other notification channels.

The EC-Alert system is used primarily for, but not limited to, informing you about the following situations that can negatively impact the campus, as well as the response (closing campus, canceling classes, avoiding a particular area, etc.).

  • Public Safety Emergencies (including active shooter incidents)
  • Severe Weather (including storms, and tornado watches and warnings)
  • Earthquake Response
  • Workplace Violence
  • Intruders
  • Significant Police Activity
  • Hazardous Environmental Issues

EC-Alert is an opt-in system that requires users to set up an account and subscribe to the types of alerts they wish to receive. It is recommended that users set up an account that allows phone call/voicemail, text and email notifications. Users may enter multiple phone numbers and email addresses when they set up their account, and they may set an expiration date as far out as four years into the future. Sign Up for EC-Alert here, or visit for more information.

Additional Alert Notifications

EBS: In the event of an emergency that requires you take immediate action, we may employ the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) in addition to EC-Alert. EBS broadcasts messages over more than 200 speakers located throughout the campus.

Crime Alert: When an urgent campus alert is necessary, we may notify the campus using EC-Alert and by posting a Crime Alert on the doors of campus building entrances. These alerts are in compliance with the “Timely Warning” provision of the Clery Act, and are used when a crime or incident has occurred on or near campus that poses some immediate and ongoing safety threat to members of the campus community.

Incident Notification: In instances where there is no immediate danger to the community, a notification may be distributed to the University community by email and on the campus portal.

We encourage you to sign up for EC-Alert, be aware of your surroundings, and report suspicious people or suspicious activity to Campus Security at (630) 617-3000. We value your partnership in helping to maintain a safe campus community.

University has Reopened; Investigation Continues

Updated: October 31, 2019, at 4:55 p.m.

Hate Message Investigation Continues

As the criminal investigation continues into the incidents of the past two weeks, multiple law enforcement resources have been involved in the effort to bring these incidents to resolution.

The Office of Campus Security maintains its commitment to safety and security on campus, and although no danger has been identified, several steps have been taken to enhance the presence of security staff and law enforcement here. Extra patrols have been taking place in affected areas and across campus throughout the day and night.

The campus community is reminded that safety is a partnership. If you see something, say something.

Thank you for your patience and partnership as we move forward with a renewed commitment to the safety and security of Elmhurst University.

An Update on Tuesday’s EC Alert

At approximately 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, Elmhurst police responded to a call of an individual possibly carrying a gun near the intersection of Prospect Avenue and Walter Street near campus, which is a Weapon Free zone. Police located the individual and determined that he was a concealed-carry license holder. He was removed from the scene by police. Police are still investigating. There was no threat to campus, and no apparent connection to recent incidents on campus. At 6:41 p.m., an alert was sent to campus of police activity on campus. Almost immediately, the police notified campus that the situation was secure and an all-secure alert was sent at 6:45 p.m.

University will Reopen on Wednesday, Oct. 30

Updated: October 29, 2019, at 11:55 a.m.

Elmhurst University will reopen on Wednesday, Oct. 30, with all classes resuming as regularly scheduled, University officials announced Tuesday.

The investigation is ongoing into multiple incidents of vandalism, involving hate messaging and non-specific threats, that have been discovered on campus over the past several days.

In a message to the campus community Tuesday, Elmhurst University President Troy D. VanAken said that closing the campus on Monday and Tuesday provided an important opportunity to focus on the investigation, even as additional vandalism was discovered. The University used that time to assess campus needs and determine the best ways to continue to support students, faculty, staff and campus community members.

“The decision to close campus yesterday and today was not made lightly,” President VanAken said. “But our safety and well-being are paramount to creating the kind of campus where we all can thrive.”

The University has taken the following measures as it prepares to reopen:

  • Additional campus security officers will be present, and the Elmhurst Police Department has added patrols and shared other vital law enforcement resources with the University.
  • Counseling and other support services will be available for students, faculty and staff.
  • Key leadership groups are meeting Tuesday to ensure that the students’ return is safe, positive and productive.

President VanAken acknowledged the need to get back to the University’s educational mission during “a challenging, difficult week for all of us.” He also extended his thanks to the City of Elmhurst for its support.

“As we move forward, we will learn and grow from what has happened, and our campus community will become stronger,” VanAken said. “I look forward to seeing everyone around campus tomorrow.”

Anyone who may have information related to the vandalism incidents is asked to contact the Office of Campus Security or the Elmhurst Police Department.

How to Report Information

  • By phone: Call the Office of Campus Security (630) 617-3000 or Elmhurst Police Department at (630) 530-3050 (non-emergency).
  • In person: Visit the Office of Campus Security in Lehmann Hall, lower level.
  • Online: Use the University’s Silent Witness Form.

Previous Updates

New Vandalism Incident Under Investigation; Campus Closed Oct. 28 and 29

Updated: October 28, 2019 at 6:08 p.m.

On Monday afternoon, Elmhurst University officials found another threatening graffiti message in a residence hall. The campus was closed Monday for an active investigation into other graffiti incidents that have occurred over the past week.

It remains unclear whether this latest message, found in the Dinkmeyer residence hall, was new or was connected to a vandalism incident that was discovered Sunday night in the A.C. Buehler Library and prompted the campus closing. Upon discovering the new message today, the University immediately notified law enforcement and decided that the campus would remain closed through Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Elmhurst Police believe the Monday incident to be a non-specific, non-credible threat. But with a goal of providing an environment conducive to learning, the University is working to re-open on Wednesday, after arranging for additional security measures.

“Activities that threaten our campus community are completely unacceptable and are a violation of everything the University stands for,” said Elmhurst University President Troy VanAken. “Student safety is a top priority, as is a complete and thorough investigation of these incidents.”

As before, the campus will not be on lockdown. Residence halls will remain open and additional steps are being taken to provide for the safety and comfort of students living on campus.

Anyone who may have information related to this or other incidents on campus is asked to contact the Office of Campus Security or the Elmhurst Police Department.

Updates will be sent via campus email and this webpage. 

We encourage anyone who may have information related to this or other incidents on campus to contact the Office of Campus Security or the Elmhurst Police Department.

How to Report Information

  • By phone: Call the Office of Campus Security (630) 617-3000 or Elmhurst Police Department at (630) 530-3050 (non-emergency).
  • In person: Visit the Office of Campus Security in Lehmann Hall, lower level.
  • Online: Use the University’s Silent Witness Form.

Below is a release authorized by the Elmhurst Police Department.

Elmhurst Police Department Statement

Updated: October 28, 2019 at 12:30 a.m.

Graffiti (Threat) Vandalism – Elmhurst University

Elmhurst police are investigating an incident of graffiti that was discovered in a women’s restroom stall located in the University Library on Sunday night, October 27, 2019 after 10 p.m.  Police evidence technicians are processing the scene and evidence recovered will be sent to the crime lab for analysis.  At this point police do not believe this vandalism to be a credible threat. However, both police and university officials treat incidents of this nature seriously and encourage anyone with information about this incident to contact Elmhurst Police at 630-530-3050. In an abundance of caution, Elmhurst University has cancelled class for Monday, October 28, 2019.

New Vandalism Incident Under Investigation; Campus Closed Oct. 28

Updated: October 28, 2019 at 6:12 a.m.

Elmhurst police are investigating an incident of graffiti that was discovered in a women’s restroom stall in the campus library on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, after 10:00 p.m. Police do not believe the incident constitutes a credible threat.

However, the University takes these incidents seriously and, out of an abundance of caution, has closed the campus for Monday, Oct. 28. The decision follows the separate discovery last week of graffiti in a dormitory that may or may not be related to Sunday’s incident—and which police also believe was not a credible threat.

Because police believe that Sunday’s graffiti incident does not pose a credible threat, a campus lockdown was not initiated. Rather, closing the campus means that offices and academic and recreational facilities are closed, and that classes (including evening classes) and events have been canceled for Monday. This will allow police to conduct their investigation and the administration to work through appropriate next steps. The University will make a determination later today (Monday) about Tuesday classes.

Residence halls remain open, but those on campus who would like an escort or additional assistance should call Campus Security. Residence Life and RAs are reaching out to residential students as well.

About the Vandalism Incident Investigation

Updated: October 23, 2019, at 12:45 p.m.

The Elmhurst University Office of Campus Security and the Elmhurst Police Department are investigating recent incidents of vandalism in a residence hall bathroom.

On Tuesday evening, Oct. 22, the Elmhurst University campus received a report of vandalism in a residence hall bathroom—the phrases “Shoot the school” and “Shoot it up” were written on the walls of a bathroom stall in dry-erase marker. This followed reports on Monday, Oct. 21, of hate messages written elsewhere in the same bathroom.

Initial evaluations of the information indicate there is no immediate or ongoing threat to safety on campus. Campus remains open, and classes are continuing as scheduled.

Investigations began immediately by the Office of Campus Security and the Elmhurst Police Department, and are ongoing. Officers have worked to ensure the safety of the students in the residence hall and the rest of campus while also securing as much information and evidence as possible.

First responses also included an immediate increase in officer presence on campus, from both the University and the Elmhurst Police Department.

Elmhurst University takes this kind of incident very seriously. Hate speech and other activities that threaten our campus community are completely unacceptable, and are a violation of everything the University stands for. The safety and well-being of our students is a top priority of this campus, as is a thorough and complete investigation of these incidents.

We encourage anyone on or off campus who may have information related to this or other incidents on campus to contact the Office of Campus Security or the Elmhurst Police Department. Any information shared will be used appropriately to address the situation.

How to Report Information

  • By phone: Call the Office of Campus Security (630) 617-3000 or Elmhurst Police Department at (630) 530-3050 (non-emergency).
  • In person: Visit the Office of Campus Security in Lehmann Hall, lower level.
  • Online: Use the University’s Silent Witness Form.


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