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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

One racist St. Olaf note found to be fabricated

<nesday, student government leaders from St. Olaf and Carleton and St. Olaf student organizers sent a letter to both campuses and to the Northfield community addressing racist messages sent to two black St. Olaf students in late April.

The letter announced greater intercampus collaboration in the fight against racism, acknowledged systemic and individual racism on both campuses and offered a commitment to intervening in racist incidents going forward.

Also on Wednesday, St. Olaf President David Anderson announced in a campus-wide  email that the second racist message, found on Saturday, April 29, was fabricated and that the person responsible for fabricating the note has confessed to the St. Olaf administration. St. Olaf has been working with a forensic consultant, the Northfield Police and the FBI in order to identify the perpetrators of both of the two recent notes.

In a press statement, the St. Olaf student organizers, known as the Collective for Change on the Hill, condemned the fabricated note and reiterated the urgency of racial issues at St. Olaf. The Collective told The Carletonian that its organizing has “always been about the larger picture and institutional racism at St. Olaf.”

Over the past two weeks, the Collective led demonstrations and called for widespread institutional change at St. Olaf in the wake of the racist notes.

There have been five demonstrations between Monday, April 24 and Thursday, May 4 in response to two racist messages sent to St. Olaf students Don Williams ’18 and Samantha Wells ’17.

Before a demonstration on Monday, May 1, the Collective provided the St. Olaf administration with “terms of engagement” in order to get the administration to address racism on the Collective’s terms.Olaf President David Anderson on Monday, May 1, included a meeting between the Collective, Anderson and St. Olaf’s Board of Regents to discuss the Collective’s demands for institutional changes. The meeting with the Board of Regents, which took place on Thursday, May 4, did not address the Collective’s demands, according to the Collective’s website.

Because the Collective saw Thursday’s meeting as unsuccessful, St. Olaf and Carleton students drafted Tuesday’s letter hoping to address racism without the influence of college administrators.

In addition to the letter, Carleton students have offered solidarity by spreading updates from St. Olaf via student organization email lists and by attending the Collective’s demonstrations.
The Carletonian spoke with several student organizations before news of the second note’s fabrication.

Black Student Alliance (BSA) President-Elect Aislinn Mayfield ’19 told The Carletonian that BSA continues to plan its next steps.

Speaking in his capacity as Men of Color (MOC) President, Sharaka Berry ’18 said that last week, MOC met with the African and Caribbean Association (ACA) to discuss colonialism and independence as part of ACA’s Independence Week programming. This week at MOC, Berry planned “to actually talk about in detail what’s going on at Olaf, how it related to this campus, how this campus is different and how we experience our racial identities on campus.”

Interfaith Social Action (IFSA) President Meg Crenshaw ’17 said that IFSA does not have plans for intercampus activism beyond showing up to demonstrations at St. Olaf and sharing updates with Carleton students.

Crenshaw also noted that Carleton can learn from St. Olaf’s organizing successes. “We haven’t had a sit-in at Carleton since I’ve been here, and the escalation at St. Olaf has been strategic and powerful,” she said.

“We can take some cues from them: What are our priorities as students at Carleton, and how can we be strategic, escalate and ultimately build power to get what we need at Carleton?”
CCCE Education Fellow Sarah Trachtenberg ’17, who attended the Saturday, April 29 sit-in, spent the night inside Buntrock Commons, attended a march to Boe Chapel the following morning and was on campus when St. Olaf President David Anderson signed a revised list of demands, said that the St. Olaf movement “is actually permeating St. Olaf’s campus in a way that’s really cool, and has always been hard to make things happen at Carleton.”

Trachtenberg said that a Carleton email list called “Carls for a Democratic Society,” which Shayna Gleason ’17 started after the 2016 presidential election, kept her informed about the events at St. Olaf. Gleason described the email list as “a platform to publicize concrete actions to people interested in any kind of Trump-era activism.”

Trachtenberg said that it is especially important for Carleton students to realize that, despite St. Olaf’s successful organizing, St. Olaf is much closer than Carleton to finals and can use the support of Carleton students as they balance organizing with crunch time. “We owe it to St. Olaf to go plug in however they need us.”

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