NORTHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) — Racial tensions on the campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield have reached a boiling point.
Minority students say the time for action is now to address lingering incidents of racial hatred.
This comes on the heels of the seventh and latest case of written threats against a minority student.
On Saturday, a student found a frightening note on her car. The message called her the N-word, telling her to “shut up or I will shut you up!”
St. Olaf students say tension has been building all year as students of color deal with verbal and written threats and hate messages.
The school says there is an on-going investigation to find the perpetrator, but on Monday, students lost their patience. Many boycotted classes to protest racism on campus.
“In addressing race issues, I have been met with very hostile reactions,” said student Limi Simbakalia. “Yelling and cussing, even in a classroom situation, as well as down to little micro aggressions and things in between. People have used the N-word to my face.”
Students are demanding swift administrative action and want a public airing with the Board of Regents. A list of student demands can be found here.
St. Olaf President David Anderson bristles at suggestions the school isn’t doing enough. At a tense gathering with protesting students in the Tomson Auditorium Monday afternoon, he argued that broad demands won’t solve the problem.
The president says he has two main concerns: “Find the person or persons sending these notes and take action, and two, enter into a long-term productive discussion for a better environment for people of color, faculty and staff, everyone.”
The student body and the administration did come to an understanding Monday afternoon. The two sides agreed to set up an autonomous task force to address racial concerns.
So far, the alleged perpetrator has not been found. Students say there are similarities in 6 of the 7 racist notes, which are believed to be the work of just one or two people.