In mid-November, a Drake University student told school officials she had received four racist notes in one of the residence halls, at least one of which was addressed to her.
After a police and school investigation, the student, who has not been charged or named, admitted to writing one of the notes. The Des Moines Register reports that Drake officials “are confident the four notes reported by the female student were hoaxes.”
The student who sent the four hoax notes now faces harassment charges, according to Sgt. Paul Parizek, a Des Moines, IA, police spokesman (whether she will actually be charged remains to be seen and is unlikely). Drake spokesman Jarad Bernstein told the Register that the student also faces a campus discipline procedure which could result in her expulsion. Again, this is unlikely, as most hoaxers claim they were trying to “start a dialogue” and get a pass.
On Friday, Drake University President Marty Martin sent a statement to students and faculty saying the notes reported by the student on November 13 and 15 were "copycat hoaxes of an initial campus incident."
The original note — separate from the four hoaxes — was found in early November by freshman Keith Walker. Walker wrote about the note in a now-deleted Facebook post, saying he was going to leave Drake on November 9 for “mental health reasons” but would return. Drake sent a statement to the Register saying after Walker reported the note, he was offered a new place to live, academic support, counseling, and security. Bernstein at the time couldn’t tell the Register if Walker accepted any of this.
The Register also reported Walker did not return multiple interview requests and police have said the student is not cooperating with the investigation.
“Right now, we don’t have a suspect we can charge,” Sgt. Parizek said.
Parizek told the Register on Friday that they’re still investigating the note Walker found, even after the other notes were proven to be hoaxes. Based on how these investigations always seem to go, it’s probably safe to assume we already know who sent the note to Walker.
Despite the fact that every incident of racist or sexist notes turns out to be false, about 3,000 Drake students still took the opportunity to get out of class and hold a rally. One speaker, according to the Register, claimed she “felt her life was in danger” at the university.
Drake President Martin addressed the rally in his statement on Friday, standing up for the students who claim to feel threatened despite no actual threat existing.
"The fact that the actions of the student who has admitted guilt were propelled by motives other than hate does not minimize the worry and emotional harm they caused, but should temper fears," Martin wrote.
Martin said 250 students, faculty, and staff received robo calls containing white supremacist language after the notes were reported. So, a non-hate incident masquerading as a hate incident, rather than leading to an actual conversation, led to an actual hate incident. So much for “starting a dialogue.”