Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
Now, it seems that a very similar scene has unfolded on the campus of Minnesota's St. Olaf College, where a series of disturbing racist notes prompted protests that essentially shut the school down.
As KARE reports, however, it was revealed Wednesday “that the racist note that sparked recent protests was,” in fact, fabricated:
A student, which the school has not identified, found the note on their car on April 29. It read:
I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less n***** that this school has to deal with.
You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.
The hateful and threatening nature of the note quickly prompted students to rise up and form what has been referred to as a “student coup,” staging sit-ins in buildings and around campus and causing professors to cancel classes.
A student group called “The Collective for Change on the Hill” also issued a list of demands from school administrators, including a “zero tolerance policy on racial, sexual and homophobic epithets,” a “mandatory racial awareness curriculum” for faculty and students alike, and “two mandatory general education courses in race and ethnic studies and women’s and gender studies.”
While the particular note was only one in a series of racially-charged messages that had turned up on campus, it did prompt local police to launch a widespread investigation, even calling in the FBI and a computer forensic consultant for assistance.
Things took a hard turn on Wednesday, however, when St. Olaf President David Anderson sent out a campus letter that read, in part:
We've completed our investigation of the incident involving the racist and threatening note that was reportedly left on a student's car on April 29.
We confronted a person of interest who confessed to writing the note. We've confirmed that this was not a genuine threat. We're confident that there is no ongoing threat from this incident to individuals or the community as a whole.
Nonetheless, activists with Collective for Change on the Hill say that just because this one note was faked, the outrage it created is no less important:
“As a member of The Collective, and as a whole, we condemn the acts of whoever fabricated this, but it does not change that there needs to be some sort of reform here on campus.”
President Anderson has noted that federal student privacy laws prevent St. Olaf's from both “disclosing the identity of the author of that note and from disclosing the actions taken by the College now that we know the author's identity.”
As of yet, it remains unclear whether just that single note was fabricated, or if all seven of the racial campus threats that have popped up this year were fakes.