St. Thomas cancels classes, hosts school-wide dialogue about racist note

Students poured out of an all-school, University of St. Thomas assembly Wednesday, many wearing buttons proclaiming “Racism stops with me.”

“It just means we want to stand up against hatred in our community,” said Hannah Wallace, a St. Thomas Senior.

“I guess I just want to be someone who stands up for everyone and who speaks out, definitely speaks out,” said Maddie Frisk, a St. Thomas sophomore. “Doesn’t let it just be pushed to side or let it slide like it has for so long.”

The St. Paul Catholic university spoke collectively saying enough is enough.  

The campus was shaken recently when freshman Kevyn Perkins reportedly found a racist taunt scrawled on his dorm room door.

School leadership canceled classes Wednesday, vowing to stop hate, bigotry and bias in all its forms at St. Thomas.

Instead, students, faculty and staff held what’s been described as a closed door teach-in to launch a difficult, yet necessary dialogue.

“I felt prideful that students of every race were at the assembly especially all of the white students with the buttons,” said Ahmen Samuel, a St. Thomas freshman. “Made me feel like they are actually trying to accomplish a common goal here.”

In addition to the meeting, the university also outlined a short-term action plan. The plan promises classroom conversations, an anti-hate campaign and a focus on student life and safety in residence halls.

After what happened, sophomore Maddie Frisk is vowing she’s all in.

“I’m quite sad and angry. I tear up every time I think about it because me, as a white person, can’t fathom it happening to me. But after today and last week’s sit-in, I feel encouraged and empowered and our campus is finally coming together to put a stop to the problem,” said Frisk.