Following an incident involving racist threats on social media, Bemidji State University suspended all classes on Friday. Administration is currently collaborating with the Bemidji Police Department to improve public safety.
Bemidji State University’s Center for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion hosted a “Beaver Huddle” event at Hagg-Sauer Hall on Thursday, March 2nd. The purpose of the event was to discuss recent hate-related occurrences 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 stated that the “Beaver Huddle” was convened to shed light on the situation. While the gathering was intended to face challenging issues of racial and social justice, it quickly took a dark turn later in the evening, when comments were made on the anonymous messaging network 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.’”
According to President Hoffman, an inquiry into the threats is presently ongoing in the goal of finding the individual or individuals responsible. Hoffman has also stated that such conduct will not be tolerated.