Cal State Fullerton feared a student had sent campus threat. It was just a bad Nintendo joke

A sign above an entrance to California State University Fullerton
An email urging a Cal State Fullerton professor to cancel class “for the good of humanity” due to a “once-in-a-lifetime event” sent the campus into high alert. It turned out to be a reference to a Nintendo Direct livestream.
(Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Times)

Cal State Fullerton was on high alert after a person believed to be a student sent what officials perceived as a “vague threat to campus,” but the message turned out to be a reference to a Nintendo event, authorities said.

The person sent an email Tuesday urging a professor to cancel class the next day due to a “once-in-a-lifetime event,” saying that the professor should do so “for the good of humanity,” according to campus police.

The professor reported the email, sending the CSUF Police Department scrambling to determine whether there was a threat to campus Wednesday.


“After hours of investigation by our detectives, we learned of a Nintendo Direct event that would occur at the exact date and time the individual suggested the class be canceled,” acting Chief Scot Willey said in a statement Tuesday night. “The individual … then reached back out to the professor via email admitting it was a bad joke regarding the Nintendo Direct event.”

The event in question is a livestream by Nintendo announcing some of the games that will be released for the Nintendo Switch in the first half of this year.

Students on social media reported an “emptier than usual” campus Wednesday, with many classes not meeting.

“2/3 of my classes cancelled today. Crazy world we live in folks. Be Safe Titans!” one Reddit user commented in the Cal State Fullerton subreddit.

“Campus seemed emptier than usual and there was less traffic for my 8:30 am class so it looks like many took this seriously,” said another.

Theater professor Holly Sneed wrote in a message to students that she was canceling in-person class out of “an abundance of caution.”


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The CSUF Police Department said additional officers, including a K9 team, would be on campus Wednesday despite the fact that authorities did not believe there was an active threat.

“We understand that a threat of any kind, real or not, causes many to fear for their safety,” Willey said.