Hundreds of students at St. Olaf are holding a sit-in to protest racism and demand a response from school officials.
It all started after reports that a student of color at the school was targeted by a racist letter. Another student posted the note on Twitter, saying it was left on her friend's car.
The note read: “I am so glad that you are leaving soon. 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.”
According to St. Olaf's student newspaper, this kind of thing has been happening all year. Seven acts of hate speech have been reported at the Lutheran liberal arts campus during the 2016-17 academic year, the paper says, and it's the second reported message targeted at a specific student.
The students were protesting because they say the school's administration hasn't done enough in response to these incidents. One email from St. Olaf College President David Anderson was posted to Twitter.
Northfield News says hundreds of students attended the protest at Buntrock Commons over the weekend, which canceled several activities scheduled to take place in the building Saturday night.
In an email statement to GoMN Monday, St. Olaf said students at the protest shared "their fear, anger and frustration," noting recent acts of racism (the first one was reported in October) "have opened painful – and important – discussions about how we can do better as a community in addressing the broader issue of racial discrimination."
Organizers of the event encouraged students to sleep in the building and continue the protest by skipping all their classes Monday, Northfield News says. And tweets Monday morning show students have settled in for the boycott.
Meeting with students planned for Monday
St. Olaf said hundreds of students are conducting a sit-in in Tomson Hall Monday, noting the President's Leadership Team plans to meet with students at 8:30 a.m.
Classes have been canceled so "we may have time for faculty, students and staff to continue discussions about racism and diversity on our campus," the statement adds.
St. Olaf called the recent racist messages "despicable," adding they "violate every value we hold as a community, and they have absolutely no place at St. Olaf."
The school is investigating and is "sparing no effort and are using every tool at our disposal to catch the perpetrators of these hate-filled acts." The college is working with Northfield police in its investigation, and anyone who has information about who may be leaving these racist messages to contact the St. Olaf Public Safety Dispatch at 507-786-3666.
According to St. Olaf's website, 74 percent of students in the fall of 2015 identified themselves as "white, non-Hispanic."