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Students receive mystery message

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Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 12:00 am

"The monkey got out of the cage."

This mysterious phrase appeared on the cell phones of UF students, faculty and staff in the form of a text message Tuesday night.

Sent from the five-digit phone number 65586, UF spokesman Steve Orlando confirmed the text came from Mobile Campus, a national system UF uses to update students about campus emergencies.

Mobile Campus labeled the text messaging blip as "improper use" and locked its system to review all logs to find who sent the message and how it was sent, Orlando said.

Ian Fisher, a UF law school student said he first learned about the text through an instant message.

"My friend IM-ed me freaking out, and my roommate came in and showed me his phone," Fischer said. "I got the text at 8:45 p.m. on the dot."

He thought it was scary the emergency system could be hacked into, he said.

UF student Kamay Lafalaise said she was watching presidential inauguration coverage when she received the text.

Lafalaise said she thinks the text was a racist jab against President Barack Obama.

"I am an African-American, and I am offended," she said. "I don't want the person who did this to get away with it. It's immature."

Although she knew she would not get a reply, UF student Nancy Barker said she responded with a text of her own.

"I said ' President Obama will be a great leader regardless of ignorant and immature texts,'" Barker said.

Orlando said UF has no indication that the text was sent from the UF Alert System.

All that was known as of Tuesday night is that somehow the Mobile Campus system was used. There is a possibility right now that this incident goes beyond the University of Florida, he said.

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