St. Olaf, a tiny Lutheran college in rural Minnesota, a very liberal campus where four of every five students backed Hillary Clinton for president and where conservative and pro-Trump students have been cursed and threatened, is the improbable site of the latest campus racial conflict. Black students took over the cafeteria during dinner, blocked entrances and boycotted classes Monday to protest seven typed and written racist statements discovered on campus in recent weeks.
Over the weekend, a black student reported having found a note on the windshield of her car that read: “I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less n‑‑‑‑‑ that this school must deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up, or I will shut you up.” Students gathered Saturday night inside a student union building, chanting: “This ends now.”
“The students have taken over the campus like a coup,” Kathryn Hinderaker, vice president of the College Republicans, told The College Fix in a telephone interview Monday.
A source who reached out to The College Fix on Monday via email said a friend of hers was working in the library Saturday evening and was allegedly pushed aside by a throng of student protesters who demanded she turn over the library intercom for them to make an announcement.
“When she refused, they stormed the circulation desk and forcibly grabbed the intercom mic to make their announcement,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous for safety concerns. “They also ripped the phone out of her hand and off the wall when she tried to call the police.”
Though the reported racist statements, including “go back to Africa,” may have been the work of one or two individuals, the protesters insist that “these racially charged reported and unreported hate crimes are not driven by individual incidents or students, but an ideology that is continuously supported by the administration’s lack of action and the student body’s harmful attitudes.”
College President David Anderson met with protesters in the afternoon and signed an agreement on how to proceed with addressing issues of racism. The agreement seemed to accept the protesters’ view that institutional racism is the core problem at St. Olaf. As part of their terms, students demanded the creation of a task force led by “two faculty members of color” and “three students and one alumni member of color.”
In addition to their terms and conditions, students put together a separate list of demands, which includes the creation and enforcement of “a comprehensive racial awareness and inclusiveness curriculum” and a revision of the school’s general education requirements to include “mandatory introductory courses in Race & Ethnic Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies departments.”
On March 21, the student newspaper Manitou Messenger interviewed 12 St. Olaf students and several reported having been violently threatened because of their political beliefs, and almost all of them said they felt as though they can’t speak up about politics on campus – in class, online or with their friends.
On the night of the election, a student threatened to beat up College Republicans President Emily Schaller, calling her a “f***ing moron.” Over the next couple of days, she said she overheard multiple students threaten to hurt the next conservative or Republican they saw. Vice President of St. Olaf College Republicans Kathryn Hinderaker said she had a similar experience.
In the past few days, several anti-white posters appeared on campus.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the AP, and The Washington Post all covered this story, but none mentioned how unlikely it is that a remote liberal campus with only 30 or so black students should be the site of an anti-black crusade. One site, Legal Insurrection, mentioned the possibility of a hoax: “The racist notes at St. Olaf could be real, but this situation is unfolding in a manner similar to the great Oberlin College racism hoax of 2013, in which racist posters were placed on campus by liberal students who wanted to start a dialogue. If you wanted to force your school to mandate race and gender classes, planting racist notes on campus then expressing outrage about it and making demands would be one way to achieve it.”