NORTHFIELD, Minn. - The president of St. Olaf College informed students on Wednesday that the racist note that sparked recent protests was a fake.
The note, left on a student's car on Saturday, April 29, prompted a sit-in and boycotts by hundreds of students. Those protests resulted in an agreement with the college to begin a task force focused on issues of racism and equality.
On Wednesday morning, St. Olaf President David Anderson sent out an email to the campus community saying that in the course of the school's investigation, they confronted a person of interest who confessed to writing the note.
"We've confirmed that the note was not a genuine threat," Anderson wrote.
The note used a racial slur and demanded that the student it was addressed to "shut up or I will shut you up."
He went on to say that while there is no specific threat to the community from that note, this wasn't the only incident of its kind at the school.
"We continue to investigate the other racist incidents, which we are taking very seriously," he wrote.
Anderson says the school remains committed to the process it has begun to address issues of racism that have been raised by students.
He said due to privacy laws, the school cannot disclose the identity of the note's author.
A member of A Collective for Change on the Hill, a student group that lead recent protests and is demanding a list of institutional changes at the college, says it does not condone the actions of the person who wrote the fake note.
“As a member of The Collective, and as a whole, we condemn the acts of whoever fabricated this, but it does not change that there needs to be some sort of reform here on campus,” said Ernest Avalos, a junior at the college and a member of The Collective.
Several students that spoke to KARE-11 on campus differed in their views on the fabricated note.
“Would I have ever fabricated something like that? No, I don’t think so,” said St. Olaf senior Sebastian Surom. “Do I think that they were unjustified? Not necessarily.”
Umaimah Choudhury, a first-year exchange student from Bangladesh, said she feels St. Olaf still has a lot of work to do in addressing racial issues.
“I kind of wish that people wouldn’t know that it was fabricated, because it still needs to happen,” said Choudhury.
Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson tells KARE-11 that the police department was first alerted by St. Olaf College about the note.
Nelson said that investigation was closed when the student who received the note did not want to file a case.
Police are investigating a separate case involving an alleged racial incident on campus, though Nelson said he could not provide details on an open investigation.