U-M sorority sorry for popping balloons that led to active shooter alert

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WILX) - Members of the University of Michigan sorority who were responsible for sparking an active shooter alert on March 16 have published an apology.

The letter, which was published Sunday in the university's student newspaper, the Michigan Daily, says members of alpha Kappa Delta Phi were popping balloons in Mason Hall as part of a team-building exercise. People in the building mistook the sounds of balloons popping and women screaming as gunshots, which then led to a flood of phone calls to police. An active shooter alert was then triggered from there.

The group says it took so long for them to issue an apology because they needed to "process their feelings of guilt and disbelief."

They say they'll now use that day's events as a way to further educate themselves about social justice and marginalized communities.

The active shooter alert was issued for Mason Hall near the university's Diag while people were holding a vigil on campus for the dozens of Muslim people killed in shootings at two mosques in New Zealand.

Read the full letter below:

To our fellow students at the University of Michigan, the University of Michigan Chapter of alpha Kappa Delta Phi would like to sincerely apologize for the events that took place last Saturday as a result of our actions. Last week, a group of our members had planned a bonding event that involved team-building activities, including one that involved popping balloons that set off the false shooter alert. We are truly sorry to everyone who feared for their lives and had to experience the traumatic events of that day, especially to our fellow Muslim students and all those who were present at the New Zealand Mosques Solidarity Vigil. It is unacceptable to merely pass off our actions as a poorly timed coincidence. To do so would be to ignore the politically-charged atmosphere that day and the many serious events on campus that preceded the false alarm. Failure to acknowledge these circumstances would only further enable us to benefit from the privilege that comes with a lack of understanding about the real dangers and fears that many of our fellow peers, students of color and Muslim students live with on a day to day basis.

We also want to acknowledge our silence and delay in responding to the events of last week. As part of a large and diverse community of color, we understand that everyone perceives and processes traumatic events in different ways and at different speeds. We have used this past week to not only process our feelings of guilt and disbelief, but to also reflect on our mistakes and take responsibility for our actions by reaching out to members of our immediate communities. We take this event as a stark realization that we need to further educate ourselves about Islamophobia, white supremacy and what it means to use our position as A/PIA students to participate in more meaningful coalition building on campus. Moving forward, we are committed to standing together in solidarity with our fellow Muslim students and marginalized communities on campus by holding necessary conversations and taking the right steps towards being more cognizant of our actions. While our words cannot undo the trauma that was experienced that day, we will use Saturday's events as a way to further educate ourselves more about social justice and to empower and uplift our fellow Muslim community and communities of color.

Respectfully,

The University of Michigan Chapter of alpha Kappa Delta Phi

The University of Michigan Chapter of alpha Kappa Delta Phi can be reached at akdphiexecs@umich.edu.