wwu students

Belina Seare, center, Associated Students president at Western Washington University, reads a statement from her cellphone about campus safety at a press conference Wednesday, Nov. 25. Seare said she was the target of death threats.

*The student body president of Western Washington University said Wednesday she has received death threats involving her race and no longer feels safe on the Bellingham, WA campus.

“These attacks have threatened my sense of safety,” Belina Seare, a black woman, said during a news conference about the malicious comments made about her on social media.

Searle said she brought her concerns to the university police and school officials.

“I was told there was not much they could do,” Seare said. “Due to the negligent response of campus police, I know my safety is not a priority.”

wwu protest

More than 40 people from Western’s Campus Cristian Fellowship and other ministries gathered in Red Square to sing and pray in response to the social media threats toward students of color that forced WWU to cancel classes Tuesday.

In an unprecedented step, WWU suspended all classes Tuesday because of what President Bruce Shepard called “disturbing and very threatening” hate speech, posted on social media and targeting students of color. It is believed to be the first time classes at a higher-education institution in Washington have been suspended because of a threat on social media.

The series of threats against minorities were posted over the weekend on Yik Yak, an anonymous social media platform popular among college students.

The posts mentioned almost every ethnic group, including blacks, Muslims, Jews and American Indians, blaming them for an effort on campus to debate changing the university’s mascot, a Viking. The racist comments came days after some student leaders, including Searle, suggested the mascot is racist.

Shepard said of the social-media posts, “We do not know what was in the mind of that person, of course; that is one reason we are investigating it. So, who was that person’s target? We can’t say until we locate that person and interrogate them.”

Law enforcement is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, according to the Seattle Times.




The university of about 15,000 students boasts that nearly a quarter of its enrollees on the small campus about 90 miles north of Seattle are from minority groups.