Published January 13, 2015
A university student appears to be responsible for an advertising class assignment that went awry when the teacher's pug was threatened to be killed online, the school said.
Virginia Commonwealth University had previously said it did not suspect a student was behind the posting on networking site MySpace.com in which someone identifying himself as "Jason" threatened to kill the pug, Oscar, online this week.
The school later traced the postings to a school computer. It refused to identify the suspect because of federal privacy laws regarding students.
Mike Lear, an adjunct professor at VCU's Adcenter, last week gave his class an assignment to make his 6-year-old pug famous.
While most students posted fliers around campus with the pooch's picture on them, the MySpace user opted for a more shocking approach.
It worked, as animal activists and others around the globe called the Adcenter and local police to report the threat.
After investigating, Richmond police issued an alert saying, "this threat is the result of a VCU student's assignment that went awry. We want to stress that at no time was any animal in danger."
The assignment had made it clear that students could not harm or kill the dog or threaten to do so.
"The VCU Adcenter is very upset about this incident and will use 'Oscar' as an example of what not to do for classes in the future," Rick Boyko, Adcenter's managing director, said Thursday in a statement from the school.
Although charges won't be filed against the student, the university said the postings violate VCU's honor code and rules regarding the use of university computers and that the student could receive sanctions, including expulsion.
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