Utah State University students were allowed to return to class Friday, emotionally shaken by a bomb threat that closed the campus Thursday and by widespread rumors that Iraqi students may have been involved.
And in Provo, two telephone bomb threats resulted in the brief evacuation of Brigham Young University's ROTC building Thursday.USU officials denied all the rumors about involvement of Iraqi students, as did university police. But Logan City police said the university administration two days ago talked about closing the school because of threats from Iraqis.
University Police Lt. Scott Finlayson said the school has only six Iraqi students.
"I have heard 15 different rumors about Iraqi students," he said. "I personally believe they're just malicious (rumors).
Afton Tew, director of the USU International Student Office, also dismissed the rumors. "The only thing I can say is I have no reason to believe there's any basis to them," she said.
But the rumors persisted, spreading among many students. Many who were locked out of the dormitories assembled at a nearby church known affectionately as the "Golden toaster" because of its size and shape.
While waiting, some students sat near portable radios, anxiously listening to news of the war. Others joined in a game of catch with a volleyball in the church's gymnasium or strummed quietly on guitars.
"I usually don't like school, but in situations like this I'd rather be in class," said Simone Chadderdon, a junior originally from West Valley City. She described a scene of urgency as students filed from their classes after being asked to leave Thursday.
Cindy Nielson, a student from Sandy, said she saw some students crying, apparently having difficulty coping with news both of a bomb scare and a war in the Persian Gulf.
"Some people were a little freaked out about it," Nielson said.
University officials said someone telephoned an operator in the school's administrative offices at 10:15 a.m. Thursday to say bombs were set to detonate at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
After meeting with his advisers, USU President Stanford Cazier decided to evacuate all buildings on campus, including dormitories. All classes were canceled for the rest of Thursday.
"They decided, under the circumstances, it was safer to evacuate the students," Tew said.
Cazier could not be reached for comment.
Finlayson said he was working with the FBI to investigate the threats. He also said USU has a bomb technician who could handle any such emergencies.
Classes were scheduled to proceed as normal on Friday.
At BYU, officials said two calls were received about 11 a.m. Thursday, one at the ROTC building and one at the International Student Office.
The male caller, in essence, asked "Why do you bomb our country?" and said bombs would go off in the two locations in the early afternoon. The calls were not recorded.
"I don't know why they would call the student office, because that's where we help foreign students," said BYU spokesman Paul Richards. He said BYU has less than a dozen students from Middle Eastern countries, none from Iraq.
BYU police scoured both areas and found nothing. Before police arrived, staff members of the ROTC building had evacuated the building. After police scoured the buildings, everyone was allowed back in.
"We're advising students and faculty not to be overly alarmed," said Richards. "We've been told these kinds of things are going to happen. It's part of the international situation."
Also in Provo, a group calling themselves Young Americans Against War spray-painted two peace signs on the Provo Daily Herald Building Wednesday night. Earl Biederman, managing editor, categorized the damage as minimal.
Two letters left taped to the door of the newspaper office said the group are conscientious young Americans who believe oil is not worth one drop of American blood.