The University of Massachusetts (UMass) – Amherst is seeing a “disturbing increase” in racist incidents targeting Black students on campus, according to vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, Dr. Nefertiti A. Walker.
In a message to the campus community, the administrator revealed that an email with “vile, blatantly racist, and violently offensive” content had been sent to Black-focused student groups. He also said there were anti-Black hate messages sent through the “Contact Us” button in the online forms of student organizations.
Walker also disclosed that a person suddenly yelled a racist word at a group of Black students while driving his car.
“All of these anti-Black racist acts run in stark contrast to who we strive to be, which is a campus where all students are welcomed and feel a strong sense of belonging,” the school official wrote to students, as quoted by the Boston Herald.
The university says it is condemning all recent racist acts committed on campus. It also assured students that steps are being taken to diminish racist intent that may cause harm to Black students on campus.
Black Students Express Disappointment
Several Black students posted on social media some screenshots of the anti-Black email that they had received. Although the subject line was about encouraging students to join a certain group, its contents included many racist stereotypes.
The student who shared the screenshots voiced understandable frustration and seeming hopelessness about the situation. “I’m officially exhausted. I don’t know if I’ll finish this last year. Just someone get me out of here,” he remarked.
Another recipient of the email claimed that racism is part of the culture at UMass – Amherst, considering that there have been many anti-Black incidents reported before. “It is incredibly scary to go to school somewhere and know that there are people out there bold enough to not only say or think such things but to send it out,” the student said.
University Taking Action
Walker revealed that the UMass Police Department is now working closely with the school’s information technology department to identify those responsible for the recent racist acts.
While the identity of the offenders is still unknown, the public research university said it is connecting its Black students with campus resources as support. Several offices have also dedicated a space and a few hours for affected students to gather for dialogue.
“We stand in solidarity and support of our Black students, and in opposition to any anti-Black racism. Please continue to report these hateful acts, even if the act is not directed to you,” Walker said, as quoted by The Patriot Ledger.