The racist note that prompted the student body of Lutheran St. Olaf College in Minnesota to form a massive protest that shut down classes for a day was apparently a hoax, according to school officials.
St. Olaf senior Samantha Wells, a sociology and anthropology major, said in April that she found a typewritten note on her car windshield that 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.”
Fox affilliate KMSP-TV interviewed Wells after the incident, who told the station that “I’ve already broken down a few times, [I was] just so overwhelmed.”
“I’ve definitely been a lot more aware of my surroundings everywhere I go,” Wells said.
KMSP reports that Wells immediately posted the note on Facebook, as well as shared it with the St. Olaf Public Safety Office. Just a couple of hours after Wells shared the message with with the public, students gathered in Buntrock Commons in a large protest that forced the cancellation of classes.
St. Olaf students filing in for sit-in protesting racist notes found on campus this school year. Most recently on S… https://t.co/uFqevoWsB9— Ellery McCardle (@Ellery McCardle)1493642675.0
According to The College Fix, however, the note has been exposed as a hoax designed to draw attention to the racial issues on the campus.
St. Olaf President David Anderson told students in an email that the author of the note had come forward.
“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,” he said.
Anderson explained further in an email to students on Wednesday, stating “the reason I said in my earlier note that this was not a genuine threat is that we learned from the author’s confession that the note was fabricated. It was apparently a strategy to draw attention to concerns about the campus' racial climate.”
About the same time Anderson sent the email Wednesday, Wells reportedly said in a now-deleted Facebook post that “it looks like something made its way back to me in the investigation,” and she would be coming forward and saying that the letter was a hoax.
“I will be saying it was a hoax,” she wrote. “I don’t care. There is nothing more that I can do. I just wanted to give y’all the heads up.”
Wells confirmed to The College Fix in an email that she did indeed post this message on Facebook, but deleted it because she has "nothing to admit." She added that she cannot comment further for legal reasons.
Wells also discouraged other students from attempting to conduct their own investigation into who wrote the email, saying that she would rather the focus be on other students who have received racists letters in the past.
Anderson said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio that the fabricated letter aside, there are nine different investigations still ongoing concerning students receiving racist letters. Anderson said that the letters all seem to be coming from an individual, or small group of people, noting that the handwriting is similar from note to note.
According to The College Fix, the protest sparked by the fabricated note Wells received on her windshield was highly unruly. Vice president of the College Republicans at St. Olaf, Kathryn Hinderaker, told College Fix that “the students have taken over the campus like a coup.”
Reportedly, students formed a blockade barring access to the student commons and the cafeteria. One student was said to have been punched in the face when he tried to break through the blockade.
Protesters allegedly made their way to the library in order to recruit more students for the protest. An unnamed source said a friend of hers who was working at the library refused to hand over the intercom to protesters, they stormed the desk and forcefully took the intercom from her. When she tried to call the police, the source said, protesters ripped the phone out of her hand, and the device off the wall.
As the days progressed, signs began to appear in the student commons that read messages such as “I’m sick of white tears,” and “f**k your white complacency.”
“The campus admins are allowing the commons area to become a bulletin board of complaints against white people. No action has been taken to remove the signs, and no students dare to touch them since there are newly installed cameras everywhere,” the student who emailed The Fix said.