The trouble at St. Olaf [Updated]

St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, has been convulsed by a series of alleged racial incidents that may or may not be what they appear to be. The Star Tribune reports that the college is scrutinizing “persons of interest” who may be responsible for a string of anonymous racist messages targeting black students. According to the college, some of the people “of interest” are affiliated with the college and others are not.

At the College Fix this morning, Nathan Rubbelke leads off his report on the efforts to discover the perpetrators with a lead that grabs attention: “Just hours after she found a typewritten note with a racial slur on her car, St. Olaf College student Samantha Wells said in an email that she didn’t want the school to investigate her case.”

Rubbelke provides this context: “That remark came at the same time as racial protests launched on campus, during which angry students blocked entrances to campus buildings, trapping students inside as demonstrators demanded redress for a string of alleged racial incidents on campus. The aggressive protest forced administrators to cancel classes last Monday to allow demonstrators to air their grievances in a daylong sit-in.”

Some students have seized on the unresolved incidents to submit a document setting forth “terms and conditions of negotiations” to the college’s president. The Star Tribune noted the president’s agreement to unreported terms and demands in a May 1 story. Rubbelke links to the consolidated document in his May 9 report depicting the grim scene on campus. The students should have been told to shove it in Minnesota Nice, but President Anderson succumbed. The details remain unclear.

All this is occurring before a single one of the incidents has been resolved. There is a bad moon rising at St. Olaf. Reading the whole document to which Rubbelke links is painful, and not just on account of the demands. These students should be requesting instruction in remedial writing rather than seeking to impose the usual laundry list of race-based demands on the administration, governance, curriculum, personnel and whatever else there is of the institution.

The Star Tribune hasn’t gotten around to giving the details, but Rubbelke highlights one in particular. In his May 9 report Rubbelke noted that the students leading this parade have demanded the resignation of Arne Christensen from the advisory board of the college’s Institute for Freedom and Community. Christensen has served as Newt Gingrich’s chief of staff and held prominent positions in public affairs over the years.

Christensen’s crime? Paragraph I of the demands puts it this way: “We demand the removal of Arne Christenson from the Advisory Board of The Institute for Freedom & Community. Given Mr. Christenson’s political views and values as a Christian Zionist, St. Olaf College risks his influence upon the speakers brought to the school, the educational offerings, faculty development workshops, and scholarships sanctioned by the Institute through financial means.”

We can stop right here in Paragraph I and cut this short. Rubbelke has done the job the Star Tribune refuses to do. Let it be noted that St. Olaf has disgraced itself bowing to this mob.

UPDATE by JOHN: The most recent “racist” episode, which occurred on April 29, has been solved. The purported victim has confessed that she perpetrated a hoax. St. Olaf’s administration is proceeding, for the time being, as though the preceding incidents (approximately 7 over the course of the year) were real.

In any event, college President David Anderson writes: “Despite this fact, those concerns are real and, as I said earlier, we are committed to the process we have begun to address them.” No doubt that commitment will persist even if the rest of the “racist” incidents also prove to be fraudulent.


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