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UMass students respond to second racist email directed at the black community

We spoke with one of the students who received the email as well as other students who told us they are appalled this has happened again.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Western Mass News checked in with UMass Amherst after a racist email went out to several black student groups. However, this isn’t the first time – a similar email has been under investigation from last semester.

We spoke with one of the students who received the email as well as other students who told us they are appalled this has happened again.

“I received the email at 4:48 yesterday afternoon, and in it was… it’s believed it was the same individual or individuals that sent the email last semester,” said UMass junior Zach Steward.

He told Western Mass News he was one of the people who received a racist email on Tuesday that went to four black student groups as well as individual black students and a university office. Steward shared the entire email with us, reading part of it here.

“The word often used by our new members to describe you is animal,” Steward read. “So, this is an email to simply say thank you, by the way, our group is 100% legal and protected by the first amendment. We are allowed to hate you, look down upon you as well as to insult you.”

A similar email was sent last semester to black students sparking protests across campus. Who sent it remains under investigation by a third-party company, the UMass Police Department, and the Northwestern District Attorney’s office, but so far, nothing conclusive has been found according to university officials.

This latest email also addressed the investigation, saying in part, quote:

“It’s funny how the ‘investigation’ into our group went nowhere. Wonder why? It’s because we are the police, we are in the administration, we are in GEO. We made sure the UMPD investigation went cold.”

It went on to say:

“There is no point in restricting access to the student directory. We have access. The university responded exactly as we predicted and gave the expected lip service with a few token apologies.”

The Northwestern DA’s office told us that this most recent cyber attack has now been added to the ongoing investigation. A statement read, in part:

“This email was similar in tone to one sent out last semester, but this one also contained mistruths about law enforcement’s role in the investigation.”

It went on to say:

“Free speech is rightly held dear in this country, but it does not permit hate speech that threatens and intimidates in a way that interferes with a right to education.”

Steward read the final sentences of the email:

“Every other race except for blacks have assimilated. You are not in Africa anymore,” he read.

The university chancellor has responded in a public letter sent to the UMass Amherst community that said in part, quote:

“I realize how frustrating the slow progress of the investigation is and how profoundly disturbing it is that our black students have been targeted again.”

Students on campus are now standing in solidarity with their peers who received the email.

“It’s disheartening to see because, fundamentally, it goes against everything we stand for as a community,” said junior Ammar Zia.

“I think words don’t really do anything,” added junior Abdul Iftikhar. “I think we’re tired of words. We want real action by the administration.”

We reached out for an update on the third party investigation that’s underway, but they declined our request for comment at this time.