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Black Students at Northern Illinois Say They Feel Unsafe


Black students attending Northern Illinois University say they feel unsafe after racial slurs and references to shootings earlier this year at Virginia Tech were found scrawled on a bathroom wall.

The university, which was closed Monday as a security precaution, is scheduled to reopen Tuesday.

“University police are satisfied that the anonymous message no longer represents an imminent threat to students, faculty or staff,” university spokesman Joe King said in an e-mail.

But more than 100 African-American students gathered inside New Hope Missionary Baptist Church said they feared for their safety. They expressed frustration with University President John G. Peters for denying them a meeting Sunday, but he was at the group’s Monday morning news conference.

“This threat did not come out of the blue,” said Mitchell Gaddis, president of the university’s NAACP chapter. “It’s unsafe for us to walk down Greek Row . . . and we’re tired of it.”

One of the threats found in a residence hall bathroom read: “Tell those (slur) to go home.” Another read: “The VA tech shooters messed up w/ having only one shooter. . . .”

Blacks compose nearly 13 percent of the university’s 18,816 undergraduates.

Leroy Mitchell, New Hope’s pastor, said many African-American students expected racism to end when they set foot on a college campus.

“They believe they are coming to a type of utopia,” he said. “That’s a myth. Wherever you go, that’s going to happen.”

University officials said local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies “have identified several leads and remain hopeful about timely resolution of the case.”

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