I got the following letter, as well as about half-dozen very similar to it following the St. Olaf/Carleton Football game last Saturday. I have always believed that the most honest way to address racism or any other hate speech is to simply hold a mirror up to those who do it, or allow it to happen in their community. To those who were responsible, please do the right thing and come forward and answer for your actions. To those who sat with them and laughed or allowed it to go on, commit yourself to never allowing that to happen in your presence again.
As a community we can be better than this.
Greg Kneser, Dean of Students
We left at halftime because of the behavior of about 20 St. Olaf students. These students were young men who were sitting near us in the stands. The young men were shirtless-which doesn't bother me it just helps to identify them. In all of the years that I have attended college football games, I have never seen such racist and rude behavior. These guys were under the influence of alcohol we saw the beer cans but I don't excuse their behavior for that reason. They used the "f" word frequently, they were obnoxious, but worst of all, they criticized Carleton fans, with the most insensitive and rude comments that I think I have ever heard in public.
For instance, if a girl, who was deemed by them to be overweight, walked past and had on Carleton clothing, they called her a "fat pig." A young man who had Down's Syndrome and worked for the Carleton team was called a "retard." I couldn't believe when another fellow walked by and they identified him as an "Indian" and started making tomahawk chopping sounds. I could go on and on, but my point is that what should have been a fun afternoon, turned out to be shocking and disturbing.
I know that you don't have a very diverse student population, but that doesn't mean that they should be ignorant or act like fools in public. A girl from St. Olaf sat behind me in the stands and said to her friends, "Carleton seems to have a lot of Asian students what is with that?" I truly felt like I was in the midst of some sort of Nazi youth rally. I am sorry to say that now when I hear the name, St. Olaf College, I will always remember the ignorant, rude students that I encountered at a football game in the fall of 2005. I am truly shocked and saddened by their behavior and the a negative representation for your school. I would feel remiss if I didn't tell you about this behavior and I thought that in my almost 59 years I had seem just about everything. I am concerned about this type of sterotyping being perpetrated in today's world. Drunk or not, your students need to apologize for the way they conducted themselves in public. Your school should be ashamed.
A question keeps coming back to me if you saw the students in question, why was nothing done at the time, when these students were easily identifiable? Any guest needing to enter or exit the restrooms during the game would have had to pass by these students. This section of students carried on their obnoxious behavior from the beginning of the game to the very end; I find it difficult understand that one could not see or hear any of what was taking place for those three and a half hours. It makes me wonder if this behavior is the norm for the students attending athletic events.