BSU Cancels Classes for Day Due to Racist Social Media Threats
Bemidji State University canceled all classes on Friday after an incident involving racist threats on social media. Administration is currently working alongside the Bemidji Police Department and has increased its public safety presence.
On Thursday, March 2nd, Bemidji State University’s Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sponsored a “Beaver Huddle” event in Hagg-Sauer Hall. The event was meant to discuss hate-based incidents that had recently been occurring on BSU’s campus.
“We had an incident that occurred in our residence halls, a racial incident,” said Bemidji State University President Dr. John Hoffman.
One of the targets of this incident reached out to Lakeland News to discuss her experience.
“We discovered the N-word was carved into my door, along with just some random, like, scratches and marks that had been on there,” explained the victim, who has asked to remain anonymous.
Dr. Hoffman said that the “Beaver Huddle” was organized in an attempt to shed light on the issue. While the event was initially meant to serve as a way to confront difficult topics of racial and social justice, it soon took a dark turn later in the evening, when comments were made on an anonymous messaging board known as Yik Yak.
“We saw hate in its truest forms after that meeting with some social media postings,” said Bemidji State University Student Senate President Caleb Travis.
“There’s people threatening to commit more hate crimes against people of color,” said the victim, “There was also a comment that was pertaining to my friends and I, and it read, ‘The girls in the front row need to be skinned.'”
As a result of these threats, it was decided by administration to cancel all classes on Friday, March 3rd and to heighten security on campus.
“Around midnight, they sent an email that classes were cancelled,” explained Bemidji State University Senior Dawson Stone.
“We worked through some options,” said Dr. Hoffman, “Spoke with [the] Bemidji Police Department, spoke also with our campus security, and determined that the appropriate action for us would be to cancel classes.”
Although classes weren’t in session, staff did meet to address this incident, and a student conference was also held to discuss these events.
“As an institution, as people, as human beings, we don’t wanna see that on our campus,” said Travis.
Regarding the threats, Stone said simply, “That’s just not okay.”
“I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said the victim. “Because realistically, and honestly, this has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. I want BSU to say, ‘enough is enough.'”
President Hoffman says that an investigation into the threats is currently underway in hopes of identifying the individual or individuals making these threats. Hoffman has also said that this behavior will not be tolerated.
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