U Student Arrested for Alleged Threat to Detonate School’s Nuclear Reactor if Utes Lost Game


Jack Gambassi

University of Utah’s MUSS celebrates a touchdown during the NCAA football game against SDSU on Sept. 17, 2022, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Caelan Roberts, News Editor


A University of Utah student was arrested and booked at the Salt Lake County Jail on Wednesday after allegedly threatening to detonate the nuclear reactor on campus if the U’s football team did not win against San Diego State in their game on Saturday, Sept. 17.   

If we don’t win today, I’m detonating the nuclear reactor on campus,the threat read via the popular anonymous social media app YikYak on the same day as the football game.

The student who made the threat has been identified as 21-year-old female Meredith Miller and is an engineering student at the U. She faces one count of threat of terrorism, which is a second-degree felony.

When the student was interviewed on Wednesday, Sept. 21, she acknowledged posting the statement and was arrested and taken to the Salt Lake County Jail and booked for making terroristic threats,” said the U in a statement put out on Thursday.

According to the statement, the suspect claimed the post was meant as a joke. However, Chief of University Police Jason Hinojosa said, “We have a zero-tolerance policy for these kinds of threats.”

Cosette Pryor, a third-year psychology major, said that she was disappointed but not surprised when she heard about the threat.

“I think it’s really sad that it’s expected,” she said. “I think it illustrates where our society is with violence, how we’re just so used to violence and we’re used to threatening violence if we don’t get our way. I think that’s so silly.”

Pryor said she wasn’t particularly frightened by the threat, however.

“I don’t really get where this is coming from because the person wanted to hurt their own community,” she said. “It’s mainly an eye roll for me. I think it’s good that they … took action against it. Because if you make something so public, and it goes so viral, then they’re just letting it happen.”

The nuclear reactor that the threat refers to is located in the Merrill Engineering Building and is used in both student and faculty research. 

The reactor is a part of the U’s 50-year-old nuclear engineering program.

“[The program] performs research in nuclear power, nuclear medicine, nuclear forensics, homeland security, non-proliferation and nuclear detection,” the U said in the statement.

Glenn Sjoden, director of the nuclear engineering program, assured students that the reactor is “inherently safe,” but that “idle threats made to the facility are treated seriously, and we encourage folks to really bear in mind that nuclear facilities are always treated with the utmost respect and safety; therefore, the government and law enforcement will take any action necessary to mitigate any threat made.”

The reactor is both secured and alarmed and university police have “unique protocols for managing any breach of the facility,” the U said in a statement. Police response times to the alarm are also tested monthly. 

The Utes ended up winning the game against San Diego State, with a score of 35-7. 


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This article was updated on Sept. 22, 2022 to add quotes from U student Cosette Pryor.