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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Passerby vehicle yells hate speech at campus tour groups 

On Monday, Feb. 21, a vehicle driving around Third Street yelled hateful remarks at an Office of Admissions campus tour group. The incident, which happened near the Weitz Center for Creativity, was quickly denounced the next day by President Alison Byerly. 

“Yesterday afternoon, a hateful act of antisemitism occurred on the edge of the Carleton campus. I write to share our outrage at this incident and to let you know what follow-up is taking place,” read President Byerly’s statement in a campus-wide email. “As campus tours led by student staff from the Office of Admissions were passing near the Weitz Center on Monday afternoon, a passenger in a vehicle traveling on Third Street was observed and heard yelling antisemitic terms toward the groups. As you can imagine, this was a difficult encounter for those participating in the tours, and a painful experience to hear about for others within our community.”

President Byerly’s statement continued, expressing regret that the incident took place “at a time when antisemitic behavior has been on the rise across the country.” She also explained that the event is under investigation and security footage is being reviewed in order to report any information to Northfield Police.

President of the Jewish Students of Carleton Annabel Cohen ’23 appreciated Byerly’s statement but felt concerned that Byerly called the incidents “unusual in our community.” 

“While we appreciate that Allie B sent out an email about this incident, the JSC is upset and hurt that we were not contacted prior or consulted about the message. Her email makes it seem as though this is rare and antisemitism does not happen at Carleton — which it does,” said Cohen. “Worse incidences of antisemitism have been reported, so a general consensus among Jewish students is that the only reason this was addressed is because parents on a tour complained and it has the potential to tarnish outside perception of the campus.”

Not long after President Byerly’s statement, Carleton Student Association President Jancyn Appel ’23 issued her own statement. 

“Many of you have likely seen Allie B’s email and may have been a bit confused. Yesterday, during the afternoon tour sessions between 3-4 p.m., a car of two young people drove past yelling slurs at my tour group, another tour group, and another student,” read Appel’s all-campus email. “I won’t repeat what was yelled at our two tour groups as it was truly abhorrent and undeniably hateful. Slurs against Jewish, Black, and Trans/Queer people were experienced by the two groups and students, and so action has been taken.”

The email identifies Appel, also an Office of Admissions tour guide, as one of the students leading the tour groups. While Byerly’s statement only mentioned antisemitic remarks, this statement reported hate speech against Black and queer people. Appel continued, including physical descriptions of the driver and passenger of the vehicle. She also stated that she, while not certain, believes the act was committed by people outside of the Carleton community. 

In an interview with the Carletonian, Appel stated that she was frustrated that a statement by the college was put out with “no details” and “provided no insight”. 

“I’m happy President Byerly took a stand, but I’m worried she freaked people out rather than being contributive when people with information were going to say something,” said Appel. 

Additionally, Appel recognized that drive-by hate speech is not an uncommon occurrence, stating that it’s happened to her multiple times.

Another Latina senior who preferred to remain anonymous had a similar experience while walking with friends, also students of color, to the Northfield Public Library this past Fall Term. 

“I don’t remember exactly what they said,” said the senior. “But I vaguely remember something around ‘You don’t belong here’ or ‘get out of here.’”

The senior explained that it had happened to her multiple times as well. 

“I’ve been called a taco before,” she said. “I’ve also been told on campus, freshman year, that they couldn’t wait for Trump to be elected so they can send my people back.”

While multiple students report similar experiences of individuals yelling hateful words, Security Services does not maintain specific information regarding the frequency of these incidents off-campus. 

“Incidents like this rarely happen on campus,” said Director of Security and Emergency Management John Bermel. “Incidents that occur off campus may not be known to Carleton and would be reported to local law enforcement. While we work closely with law enforcement to assist in their investigation, we have little control over where an investigation will lead.”

The Carletonian will continue to report the details of this incident and others of a similar nature as they become available. 

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