UC Merced officials Monday released a brief statement on Twitter saying campus police are investigating "concerns about specific social media posts by a certain individual," adding that classes have not been canceled "despite rumors to the contrary."
The tweet, posted early Monday afternoon, provided few specifics, but encouraged "anyone who sees or hears concerning behaviors, actions, verbal statements or social media posts to contact the UC Merced Police Department immediately."
Several Twitter users connected to the university posted concerns Monday that a student they said has ties to the UC Merced College Republicans recently had posted on social media a photograph of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old man who killed six people in 2014 near the UC Santa Barbara campus.
The Merced Sun-Star spoke to the student who posted the Rodger photo, a member of College Republicans who asked not to be identified because he was concerned over his "future career prospects" as a result of the investigation.
The student said "no threats of any kind were made," but said university officials asked him not to attend his classes on Monday. He confirmed he spoke with campus police and said he was told by investigators that he had not committed any crime.
The student acknowledged posting a photograph of the Santa Barbara shooter on a social media page. The student described the shooter as a "despicable person who committed an act of domestic terrorism." He said posting the picture, which he said had no caption, was "not any kind of endorsement of him at all" and was intended to "make fun" of the shooter.
"I think these reports were made as a form of harassment against me," the student said in a brief telephone interview.
The student described the university's College Republicans as "unpopular" on campus and noted several controversies in recent months that have drawn criticism from UC Merced Chancellor Dorthy Leland.
In March, members of the College Republicans held up signs on campus encouraging people to report undocumented immigrants, which Leland said "disturbed many of us."
The student said tensions began mounting even before the controversial protest. The College Republicans in March questioned why they were asked to pay about $1,800 in security fees for a planned visit from conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Ultimately, the Shapiro appearance was scrapped.
UC Merced spokesman James Leonard on Monday said he couldn't confirm whether those posts were the ones under investigation by police.
"The police department is investigating the matter, and would notify the campus immediately if there was concern for the safety and well-being of our community," Leonard said. "Classes have not been canceled, and university operations have not been affected."
The message on Twitter follows a message posted Sunday on the UC Merced website from campus Police Chief Chou Her and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies: "Members of our campus community raised concerns about specific social media posts.
"While we cannot share the details of the posts in question, please know that the UC Merced Police Department reviews all such matters immediately and carefully." The message went on to say school authorities "will notify the campus if it is concerned for the safety and well-being of our community."
Anyone who wishes to report concerns to police is asked to call 209-228-2677.