A “racist letter” left on a black student’s car at Minnesota’s St. Olaf College has now been revealed as a hoax. The letter was decried as a “hate crime” and sparked several days of mass protests organized by students to protest “racism on campus.”
The note read, ““I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less [n-word] 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.” It was reported as having appeared on student Samantha Wells’ windshield at the end of April.
But now college officials have deemed the note to be a hoax, the Star Tribune reported.
Wells, an African-American, confessed to putting the note on her own car, St. Olaf President David R. Anderson told students. Anderson said the threatening note was “fabricated,” and may have been a “strategy to draw attention to concerns about the campus climate.”
“This was not a genuine threat,” Anderson wrote in his statement. “We’re confident that there is no ongoing threat from this incident to individuals or the community as a whole.”
The letter sparked large protests on April 29 when it was made public.
Student leaders organized gatherings and even demanded that the college cancel classes to address the “problem” of “racism on campus.” In April, Fox 9 reported that many students were outraged over the threatening letter.
Students organized protests that shut down the school’s cafeteria and the student commons with demands that the school administration do something to address the threat we now know to be a hoax.
In April, the college officially denounced the incident. “These acts are despicable. They violate every value we hold as a community, and they have absolutely no place at St. Olaf,” the college said in a statement as reported Fox.
Now that the student admitted she wrote the letter herself, Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson announced that he had closed the investigation into the incident. There is no word if the college will take disciplinary actions against the hoaxing student.
Even though the college was hoaxed by the fake letter, one St. Olaf student thought the incident still brought good things to the campus.
“It’s started something good,” senior Daniel Katuka told the Star Tribune. Katuka insisted he has experienced racism on campus and the April incident helped create “a positive way” to discuss what he claims is a problem at the school.
“It shows that if there’s a problem, it’s not a big problem,” Katuka added. “It shows that this is a campus that stands together.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com