Online Connection Is Modern-Day Town Hall Meeting

Issue Date: 
April 16, 2012

Many in the Pitt community have turned to existing and newly created online communities in their daily quest for the latest information about the bomb threats on Pitt’s campus.

Pitt’s official Facebook and Twitter pages have provided a forum for many, primarily students, to express their opinions and concerns about the spate of threats that began on Feb 13.

Other sites that have sprung up include various Pitt-related pages on as well as the “We Support the Pitt Police” Facebook page (, launched by Pitt students Alexander Rhodes and Sarah Halperin.

“This page is a small step to show the Pitt Police that their work is noticed and appreciated” during both the Western Psych shooting in March and the continual bomb-threat evacuations, Rhodes said. was created April 3 by a blogger named Andrew, who said he is “an intelligence analyst who wants to take a shot at figuring this out.” The site has garnered more than 700,000 page views from posters, some of whom self-identify as Pitt students as well as, on occasion, Pitt professors and Pitt parents. The site includes a detailed listing of the bomb threats as well as a map pinpointing the location(s) of each threat.

Christine Whelen, a visiting assistant professor in the Pitt Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Sociology, said the online communities “provide a safe forum for a modern town hall meeting.”

“These are valuable communities,” she said, adding that “they’re really no different than communities that would have town hall meetings 30 or 40 years ago. But this is the language of this generation.” Whelan is the author of Generation WTF: Getting from “What the #$&%” to a Wise, Tenacious, and Fearless You (Templeton Press, 2011).

Or as “pittchick122” posted April 11 on, “my friend posted a reminder about perspective and i thought it’d be appropriate to post here...

though it’s (obviously) frustrating to deal with the bomb threats, shouldn’t we all be thankful that there hasn’t been a bomb? or that the pitt community is becoming so close that students are offering others they’ve never met couches to sleep at night? i don’t think anyone realized the sense of community we have around us and how lucky we are to be part of such a wonderful university. just a thought :) loving on my fellow panthers. H2P!!”