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.

Recent Submissions

  • Letter to Campus Community, September 28, 1998 

    Jones, James F., Jr. (James Fleming), 1947- (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-28)
    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 ...
  • President Jones Speaks 

    Harris, Lisa-Marie (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-28)
    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 ...
  • Julius Moore Speaks 

    McClintic, Erin R. (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-28)
    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 ...
  • Hatred Will Not Be Tolerated 

    Harris, Lisa-Marie (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-28)
    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 ...
  • Letter to Parents, September 29, 1998 

    Jones, James F., Jr. (James Fleming), 1947- (Kalamazoo College, 1998-09-29)
    In a letter dated September 29, 1998, college president James F. Jones, Jr. wrote to parents of students to address a racist note and dorm room fire that shocked the college campus. After giving details of the two events ...
  • Student's Respond to President's Speech 

    Haedicke, Michael; McClintic, Erin R. (Kalamazoo College Index, 1998-09-30)
    The student newspaper reported on events on campus in the days following a racist note and fire in a Black student’s dorm room. The First Year Forum would cover the topic of a “culture of silence.” A candlelight vigil was ...
  • Administration, Commission Respond to Incident 

    Farkas, Andrew (Kalamazoo College Index, 1998-10-07)
    A week and a half after an incident on Kalamazoo College’s campus involving a racist note and dorm room fire, the student newspaper updated the campus on the victim, the possibility of the SafeWalk program, and comments ...
  • Kalamazoo City Police Continue Investigation 

    Haedicke, Michael (Kalamazoo College Index, 1998-10-14)
    The October 14, 1998 issue of the student newspaper gives an update on the police investigation into the racist note and dorm fire that took place on campus two weeks earlier. In this article, the police captain, although ...
  • Speaking Against Racism 

    McClintic, Erin R. (Kalamazoo College, 1998)
    An unidentified man speaks out about the September 1998 racist incident on Kalamazoo College’s campus while standing on the steps of Hicks Center. In the aftermath of the incident students chalked messages on campus walls ...
  • Police Say They Now Believe Fire Was Arson 

    Unknown author (Kalamazoo College Index, 1998-11-11)
    The student newspaper provides another update on the police investigation into a racist hate note and fire in a Black student’s dorm room in September of 1998. The fire in Trowbridge Hall, according to the police, was set ...
  • Investigation Continues 

    Haedicke, Michael (Kalamazoo College Index, 1999-01-27)
    The student newspaper gives an update at the start of Winter Quarter 1999 into the investigation about a racist note and fire in a Black student’s dorm during the previous term. The victim, whose name is redacted to protect ...
  • Investigation Closed 

    Unknown author (Kalamazoo College Index, 1999-02-03)
    On February 3, 1999, the student newspaper The Index announced that the police investigation into the racist note and dorm fire at Kalamazoo College was closed.  No cause for the fire in the Trowbridge dorm room on September ...
  • Letter to the Editor - Hate Letter and Fire Update 

    Jones, James F., Jr. (James Fleming), 1947- (Kalamazoo College Index, 1999-02-17)
    In this letter to the editor, college president James F. Jones, Jr. informs the campus that the Investigation Division of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety closed the case into the dorm fire and racist letter of ...
  • Campus Responds to Closing of Case 

    Collins, Mike (Kalamazoo College Index, 1999-02-17)
    This article from The Index discusses comments made by police and fire officials involved in the investigation of the September 1998 racist note and dorm fire at Kalamazoo College. Even though the case was closed without ...
  • The "Incident" yearbook spread, 1999 

    Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo College, 1999)
    The 1999 Boiling Pot yearbook featured a two-page spread about a racist letter and dorm fire on campus in September of 1998.  Referred to as the “Incident”, the spread includes photos of the burned bunk beds, President ...