Western Washington University cancels classes due to hate speech - KPTV - FOX 12

Western Washington University cancels classes due to hate speech

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Western Washington University's website Tuesday morning (www.wwu.edu) Western Washington University's website Tuesday morning (www.wwu.edu)
BELLINGHAM, WA (KPTV) -

All classes at Western Washington University were suspended Tuesday because of hate speech directed at students of color, the university's president said.

In a statement on the university's website, President Bruce Shepard said he couldn't disclose the details of the alleged hate speech, but a criminal investigation was underway to find out who was behind it.

It wasn't clear if the suspected perpetrators were students of the university.

School officials told KIRO-TV Tuesday that the posts in question were made on Yik Yak, a location-based social media app that allows users to post anonymously.

Shepard said posts on social media continued to make students of color feel unsafe, so he felt suspending classes was the best course of action, though he stressed that police believed there was no general threat to campus safety.

"Have no doubt: this is not a capitulation to those I described as trolls and lowlifes.  We are going after them.  Rather, the pause is necessary so that we may learn more as we advance the law enforcement investigation and, together, plan responses that will make us stronger," Shepard said.

While classes were suspended, the campus remained open and otherwise operating as usual.

The incident at WWU is the latest in a string of race-related problems on college campuses in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.

Early Saturday morning, a black student at Lewis & Clark College in Portland said he was assaulted by three white men who used racial slurs. The alleged attack came just days after students and staff gathered to protest racist posts on the social media app Yik Yak.

The University of Missouri made national headlines this month when students, staff and the football team protested a lack of response from school administrators in regard to racial incidents on campus. Those protests ultimately led to the resignation of the university's president and the Columbia campus chancellor.

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