What at first started as a joke quickly ballooned into a several-days-long festival as over 2 million people pledged to raid Area 51, a government base, through a Facebook event titled “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop Us All.”
The person who set up the Facebook event, Matty Roberts, canceled the Facebook event after the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed up at his door, concerned about public safety regarding the event, per reporting by USA Today.
Still, around 150 individuals showed up to the United States Air Force base on Sept. 20 to “raid” the site but soon decided against it when officials warned what would happen if they were to cross boundaries, according to CBS News.
The lengths the government would go to for the purpose of securing the area concerned some students.
“I think it’s scary to know that our government would shoot us just to stop us from running into some science labs,” said Marie Burton, a freshman in the College of Science.
Some students though weren't as worried about the government's response to possible "raiders."
“I don’t think we would have been shocked if the government followed through on their threats; this is the United States,” Marilyn Lercel, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts said. “There is a shooting every five seconds, so would it have been that shocking?”
Some wondered why so many people would show up to the raid and risk their safety.
“If there wasn’t as much hype around it, people would not have probably done it," Lercel said.
Lercel said she blames social media for creating a group mentality that encouraged people to raid the government area.
On the same day as the raid, Roberts was going to throw "Alien Stock," a music festival close to Area 51 in Rachel, Nevada, though the festival was canceled, per reporting by ABC News. Instead, the festival was moved to Las Vegas, Nevada.
“The people that were able to go down to Nevada just for an event like this were probably living off of their parent’s money or had nothing to do,” Lercel said. “If I had the time and money to do that, I would, but I don’t. I’m in college.”
The thought of aliens even being held inside of the military base was unrealistic to some students.
“I don’t think there are aliens in Area 51,” Burton said. “I think they are out there for sure, but they probably aren’t what we assume they are. For all we know they are little bacteria chilling on Mars. They aren’t dumb enough to be taken by humans.”
Even though the raid didn’t happen how it was originally planned to, some students say they would want to attend if it was put on again — but only if it was safe.
“If they moved Area 51 to Indiana I would go,” Lercel said, “but only if I wasn’t going to get shot.”