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.”
But in the first of two emails sent to students on Wednesday, St. Olaf President Dave Anderson said the school's investigation is over, and they confirmed it "was not a genuine threat." (Here's a copy someone posted on Twitter.)
Then came a follow-up email, in which Anderson explained further: They spoke to the person who wrote it, and that person admitted it was "a strategy to draw attention to concerns about the campus climate." (Here's a copy of that email, via Reddit.)
He added: "Despite this fact, these concerns are real and, as I said earlier, we are committed to the process we have begun to address them."
So who was behind it? Anderson says they can't reveal that because of federal student privacy laws.
Student group reacts: A 'terrible revelation'
The student group that urged Anderson to agree to a list of changes following the note's reveal published a post on its website Wednesday, calling the news a "terrible revelation for us."
The group, A Collective for Change on the Hill, celebrated the achievements and "spontaneous solidarity" that came after the note was discovered, and said it believed it was legitimate because of other similar instances that have happened.
But they condemn using a fabricated message in this way, the group explained, especially because the goal of the group is to change the institutional issues – and this fake undermines their efforts.
However, the group added: "This 'not genuine' incident does not invalidate the experiences of others and it does not invalidate institutionalized racism."
According to St. Olaf’s student newspaper, seven acts of hate speech have been reported at the Lutheran liberal arts campus during the 2016-17 academic year.
Anderson in the emails noted they are still investigating other "racist and hateful messages" reported on campus.