Racism hits local universities

By Zac Farber

Blackface costumes and threatening racist letters have generated discussion about racial sensitivity at two local universities this October.At Hamline University, six white students were suspended from the football team last week for coming to a Halloween party dressed as African Tribesmen, wearing black paint on their bodies and faces. Hamline administrators are investigating whether the students violated school policy, the Star Tribune reported on Nov. 5.

The incident is reminiscent of Macalester’s own “politically incorrect party” held last January, when a student dressed in blackface with a noose around his neck and another student accompanying him dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member pretending to drag him around.

At St. Thomas University, three black female roommates received four “racist and threatening notes” the day before Halloween, according to the Star Tribune. The notes were deemed a hate crime by St. Thomas’ president, the Rev. Dennis Dease, and the students were given round- the-clock security. On Nov. 1., 1,000 students, faculty and staff attended a “Stop the Hate” rally at St. Thomas.

“I know this community is very good at spinning straw into gold,” Dease said, according to the Star Tribune. “Let us use this gathering as an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the values that are so a part of this university.”

Investigators are examining the handwriting of the two notes but so far no suspects have been named.