A cybersecurity firm is now at the helm of an investigation into racist emails sent to Black student groups at the University of Massachusetts. The offensive emails targeting students began circulating in late August from the “UMass Coalition for a Better Society.”
The school’s own police and technology staff attempted to track down the source of the emails but were unsuccessful. “The online space makes it quite difficult for folks without very sophisticated systems to track down offenders,” said Dr. Nefertiti Walker, UMass chief diversity officer.
“We also have to consider that the people who might be doing this are not trying to be found, so that also makes it difficult.”
The emails spare no words when degrading Black students, calling them less than intelligent, stating they don’t fit into UMass’ culture and suggesting they all be sterilized for the betterment of society.
Excerpts from a Sept. 17 email include:
“You are clearly stupid and while not all students know the average IQ of a black person is 75 is abundantly clear that you possess a lacking intelligence along with elementary grasps of subjects that most of us learned in high school.”
“Every cry, every whine, every demand stems from a place of rejection, you must beg the rest of society to accept you and allow you in because otherwise we would never interact with you…You people should seriously consider doing the human race a favor and getting sterilized.”
Online, news of the offensive expressions has been met with a flood of social media condemnation of the perpetrators. “There’s no such thing as progress when stuff like that UMass email is being sent out. especially bc there are still plenty of people that think like that but won’t voice it in an email for the world to end up seeing,” tweeted one person.
“That UMass email was disgusting. The fact that people can hold so much hate in their heart because of skin color will always baffle me,” wrote another.
According to the Department of Education, Black students only make up 5 percent of the university population, while white students account for 62 percent. Even with the schools low black population it boasts a history of hiring notable Black figures as professors, such as writer James Baldwin.
A letter from UMass Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy was sent out to the campus community on Sept. 27 calling the email “contemptible and cowardly.” In part it read: “We will not be intimidated by the hateful acts of craven individuals who hide in anonymity. We stand with our students who have been victimized, and we will continually strive for a more equitable community grounded in the principles of dignity and respect.”
The chancellor’s message did little to assuage the outrage felt by some.
“What is the actual solution? Black students are NOT safe on your campus. How are you going to rectify this? Speaking out against what was said in the email is bare minimum. How are you planning to ensure the safety and equal treatment of your Black students?” commented a person on UMass’ Instagram post about the matter.
Some individuals called out the school for not outlining how the sender, if a student, would be dealt with. “Funny how you don’t mention anything about repercussions though 🥴” was one comment, while another suggested “Expulsion should be the minimum.”