Editor’s note: The editors of The Spartan strongly considered running the name of the student who sent the racist emails referenced in this story, but ultimately decided to withhold it for the safety of our peers and the Castleton community. Maintaining a safe and welcoming community is an important value to our staff.
A Castleton student sent a string of racist emails to another student on Oct. 9 in response to the school raising a Black Lives Matter Flag last weekend.
“I just wanted to let you know that it’s disgusting that you would raise a Black Lives Matter flag. You realize Black Lives Matter killed a cop. And destroyed this country. You’re a delusional f#*@*ng idiot. This is a university built on the backs of men and women who fought for this country and Black Lives Matter is destroying it. Maybe it would’ve been better if we picked her own cotton. Then we wouldn’t have stupid f*#*s like you,” he wrote in his first email.
There were a few more emails sent between the two students, ending with, “Oh what no reply to that??? That’s right p*#*sy,” when the targeted student decided not to respond.
The Spartan reached out to the sender of the emails for comment.
And he responded.
“I have a few things to say about that. I was out of line in the first email. Yes black lives matter. I support a flag that says it. But I do not support the organization destroying the streets of Portland. That was the meaning of my original email. Not to come across as a racist which the email was spoken about as,” he wrote.
When asked if the school had taken any disciplinary action, he said he would not make any further statements.
“It is not your right to ask me if I have gotten in any trouble. Do not send any further emails,” he wrote.
But days later, he reached out to a Spartan editor again.
“My second statement is the liquor did it,” he wrote in the email sent Oct. 16.
The student who received the emails, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had mixed emotions all day following the emails.
“I couldn’t eat anything. I wasn’t hungry or anything, I was just mad,” he said, “It’s one thing if you want to have a conversation, but it’s another thing to just blatantly insult someone who you don’t know.”
The door of the student who sent the emails has been booted, implying he is no longer on campus, but Director of Public Safety Keith Molinari declined to comment. Interim President Jonathan Spiro also said he could not comment on the disciplinary details, but he felt strongly about the email itself.
“It was offensive. It was shocking. It was wrong. And it did not represent the values of our students or our institution. I would contrast the antagonistic message from that one student versus the inclusive and big-hearted messages of the scores of students who attended the raising of the BLM flag. Those students embody our values and our aspirations,” Spiro said.
Spiro was not able to attend the Black Lives Matter flag raising ceremony, but Dean Gillian Galle was, and spoke at the ceremony in Spiro’s absence.
“Honestly? I am disappointed that this transpired on our campus. Racism does not belong here,” Galle said of the email. “These emails do not align with the Castleton Way or the inclusive community we are working together to build.”
Galle assured that “the situation has been resolved,” and also pointed out that incidents like this are why the flag was raised in the first place. It is also the reason why Castleton is striving to make campus a more inclusive and safe space for students through Maya Kraus, Castleton’s new students of color advocate.
Kraus called the email “vile and racist” and said while it was a shock, it’s not uncommon for students of color to experience hate like this.
“The sooner we accept this as truth and work towards advocating for those fallen vulnerable to such hate, the closer we will come to weakening, if not dissolving systemic racism,” Kraus said.
Castleton’s student body also responded strongly to the email.
“I was honestly in shock and in disbelief that someone could write such a targeted and hate-filled email in response to an act of good on our campus,” said junior Lauren Townsend.
Many other students were shocked by the email as well, though junior Adam Mitchell admitted he was not surprised to see it happen on Castleton’s campus.
“I am absolutely disgusted to see the email sent by a Castleton student to another Castleton student of color. It makes me angry, appalled, and above all sad,” Mitchell said.
He continued to speak about racism in our country and in small communities in Vermont, even in his hometown.
“I feel that this doesn’t portray Castleton, but the way Castleton handles this matter will. This is not to be tolerated whatsoever in any context. They must take swift and hard action against this student,” Mitchell said.
Other students also emphasized the idea that this email does not represent Castleton, including Patrick Lucey, who said as president of the Student Government Association, he condemns those comments.
“It shows his character because he went out of his way to attack a student who sent the email out. This was a student of color as well. I think that we need to create a stronger form of security for everyone here at Castleton, especially the minorities,” Lucey said.
Despite the negativity of this event, students resoundingly focused on the message of the flag raising: solidarity and acceptance. Junior Kathryn Coolidge is one of them.
“Castleton as a community is more positive and welcoming, and that specific individual decided to attempt to make Castleton look bad. But it didn’t work because the flag is still up and we are still here supporting each other,” Coolidge said.
Spartan Editors Brendan Crowley, Aris Sherwood, and Ryan Boeke contributed to this report.