St. Olaf campus leaders call for boycott of classes over racist note
NORTHFIELD, Minn. (KMSP) - The message St. Olaf senior Samantha Wells says she discovered Saturday afternoon on the windshield of her car is frightening.
“I thought it was a ticket,” the Sociology and Anthropology major told Fox 9 Sunday. Worse than a citation, the note issued a racial epithet and a threat.
“I’ve already broken down a few times, [I was] just so overwhelmed,” Wells shared.
The message reads, “I’m so glad that you are leaving. 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.”
“I’ve definitely been a lot more aware of my surroundings everywhere I go,” Wells said.
She immediately shared the note on Facebook and with St. Olaf Public Safety.
“I knew I had to share it because it was another incident; it’s the third incident this week,” she said.
Only a couple hours after Wells’ post hundreds of St. Olaf students gathered inside Buntrock Commons to protest this ninth racist message reported at the private college since September.
“Our students are upset. There’s reason for them to be upset, what’s going on is very frightening,” Dean of Students Roselyn Eaton said.
Previously reported incidents Eaton said were more general, but now that the perpetrators have directed their messages to specific students the trend has created a heightened level of concern.
“It’s hurtful to our students therefore it’s hurtful to us,” Eaton said.. “Racial epithets, the same words are being used, each of them. Anonymous written or typed messages, only black students have been targeted.”
Of the 3,000 students enrolled at St. Olaf only 63 identify as Black/African American--approximately 2 percent of the student body.
“This isn’t going to happen at St. Olaf, we’re going to put a stop to it. This is our aim,” Eaton said.
In a month’s time Wells’ undergraduate career at St. Olaf will be a memory. But her right to stand against racial discrimination is one she plans to exercise for the rest of her life.
“I’m going to continue to speak out, and if you think you’re going to shut me up, they’re not going to be able to,” she said.
In a statement St. Olaf staff shared, campus leaders wrote:
These acts are despicable. They violate every value we hold as a community, and they have absolutely no place at St. Olaf.
When the first report arose last fall, the college notified the campus of the incident and launched an immediate investigation. We are sparing no effort and are using every tool at our disposal to catch the perpetrators of these hate-filled acts. St. Olaf has notified Northfield Police, and we are working with law enforcement. Each time a racist act has been perpetrated, the college has continued notifying the campus.
We ask for the St. Olaf community’s assistance in identifying the individuals involved. Someone, somewhere knows who is perpetrating these acts of racism. Anyone aware of any information that could assist in identifying those responsible for perpetrating these or other offenses should immediately contact the St. Olaf 24-Hour Public Safety Dispatch at 507-786-3666.