Racist Note and Dorm Fire, 1998

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In September of 1998, a Black first-year student at the college found a racist note attached to his dorm room door. The following day, a fire in his dorm room was extinguished. The police investigation concluded in February of 1999 without identifying any suspects. Despite their official findings, police speculated to the media that the Black student may have been involved. The College president at the time stated, “We regret that no identifications have been made, but accept the investigation’s closure. Kalamazoo College has not and will not speculate about possible suspects in this case.” No suspects were ever identified and the allegations against this student were never proven. His name is redacted in this collection to protect his privacy.


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    Inside Kalamazoo College (1998 September)
    (1998-09) Greenhoe, John
    College responds to hate letter and fire | Orientation week concert marks launch of undergraduate explorations | Annual Fund drive exceeds target | Faculty development grants | People in the news | Personnel Personals | anniversaries | Healthlines | College receives LSTA grant
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    Letter to Campus Community, September 28, 1998
    (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-28) Jones, James F., Jr. (James Fleming), 1947-
    In this letter to the campus community, President James F. Jones, Jr. gives details of a racist note left on a student’s dorm room door on Sunday, September 27, 1998 and a fire in the same room the following day. The letter includes the text of the note which began “We have a no nigger policy at K-College. It is designed to insure the failure of all non white people here…” The note was left on the door of a first-year Black student who had read aloud a poem at a campus event that weekend. The poem was about not being judged by the color of his skin. President Jones condemned the note and appealed to the campus “…to create and maintain an environment that validates the educational benefits of a diverse community in a safe learning environment.”
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    President Jones Speaks
    (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-28) Harris, Lisa-Marie
    President James F. Jones, Jr. addresses the college community on the campus quad on Monday, September 28, 1998 to talk about a racist note posted on a Black student’s dorm room door on Sunday afternoon. That Monday morning a fire was also put out in the same student’s room. According to a letter sent to parents, Jones stated “At 7PM I met with the entire campus student community to share with them the facts regarding the incidents and to outline the steps the college would undertake to address the issues raised by the incidents and to learn the identity of the perpetrators.” Julius Moore ’96 stands next to him. Hoben Hall is in the background. Photograph by Lisa-Marie Harris ’99.
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    Julius Moore Speaks
    (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-28) McClintic, Erin R.
    Julius Moore ’96 speaks to the Kalamazoo College student body about the racist note left on another Black student’s dorm room door the previous day (September 27, 1998). A fire in the same student’s dorm room that morning prompted college president James F. Jones, standing next to Moore, to convene the campus in order to condemn the racist incident. In the aftermath of the incident, Moore worked to re-instate the SafeWalk program on campus along with the help of other alumni and students. Photograph by Erin McClintic ’99.
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    Hatred Will Not Be Tolerated
    (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-28) Harris, Lisa-Marie
    Members of the Women’s Resource Center carry a sign that reads “Hatred will NOT be tolerated.” Students are gathered in the background to listen to the address from President James F. Jones about the racist note and fire in the dorm room of a Black student in September of 1998. Photograph by Lisa-Marie Harris ’99.
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