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Despite fake racist note, some Olaf students see positive

NORTHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — A racist note left on a student’s car at St. Olaf College has been deemed a hoax, but some students at the southern Minnesota school say the incident resulted in action toward addressing minority student concerns.

The note April 29 sparked outrage, fear and hurt at the small college, as well as campuswide protests that forced classes to be canceled earlier this month, the Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/2q6HRF3 ).

A student confessed to writing the note, college President David R. Anderson said in a message to students. He said the note was fabricated in an attempt to bring concerns about the campus climate to light. He said privacy laws prevent the school from identifying the student.

Sophomore Ben Parsell said he doesn’t think the note will make it harder for a victim of a genuine racist threat to get help, but that the situation was concerning.

“I think it’s disturbing that it was written deliberately, just to stir up the campus,” Parsell said.

Senior Daniel Katuka said the note brought the campus together “in a positive way” in the face of an apparent threat.

“It shows that if there’s a problem, it’s not a big problem,” he said. “It shows that this is a campus that stands together.”

On April 29, St. Olaf senior Samantha Wells, who is black, posted images on social media of a threatening note she said she found on her windshield. She said the anonymous typewritten note said:

“I am so glad you are leaving soon. One less (N-word) this school has to deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.”

Wells addressed the president’s disclosure on social media Wednesday, but it was unclear whether she acknowledged or denied being the author of the note.

“So, it looks like something made its way back to me in the investigation,” she wrote. “I will be saying it was a hoax. I don’t care. There is nothing more that I can do.”

The Associated Press couldn’t reach Wells for comment Thursday. She doesn’t have a listed phone number and the school’s online student directory isn’t public.

Northfield police said they’ve closed their investigation into the note and that Wells didn’t want to file it as a criminal case. Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson said Wednesday that his department had received no information questioning the note’s authenticity. He added that he was not aware of any law that would enable him to charge someone with such a hoax.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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