Since the discovery of racial death threats at Hocking College in Ohio, black students regard the thick forest of trees surrounding the campus not as nature's sanctuary, but a place filled with potential hiding places for a sniper or anyone to take their lives.
An attacker could find many places to hide at Hocking College, a campus carved in to a forest in the Appalachian foothills. And with the threat of a mass killing looming over black students at the community college, Allen Edwards is steering clear of the trees.
"I don't feel too safe walking by the woods," said Edwards, a 19-year-old black student from Canton. "There's woods everywhere. And somebody could be out in them, and I don't know." Source: Racial Threat puts southern Ohio's Hocking College on alert, on edge, Cleveland.com
That kind of apprehension has gripped Hocking College since last week, when a racial death threat was discovered scrawled on a bathroom wall:
The FBI is investigating a threat scrawled last week on a bathroom wall warning that black students would be killed Feb. 2. It bore the trademarks of just another casual - though chilling - threat of violence on a college campus, but students here aren't taking any chances.
At least one subsequent note reading "kill the n------" was (also) reported. Source: Cleveland.com
It is impossible to know if there is any true threat, but until the author is found, it's impossible to know if everyone is safe and simply victims of a nasty hoax. There are 400 black students out of a total of 6,300 at Hocking, but already two black students have withdrawn and left the campus, while others are doing their best to balance caution with the business of being college students.That's the power of a threat like this.
The college has provided temporary housing for students who are too scared to stay in Hocking Heights, the dorm where the threats were found. And for those wary of venturing outside until after Feb. 2, teachers are making allowances for missed classwork.
Since the first threat was discovered Friday, the school has installed more security cameras in dorms and beefed up foot patrols. A $5,000 reward is being offered, and extra counselors are on hand.
Having lived in lower Manhattan before, during and after 9/11, I know what it is to feel existential fear. But, I hope the black students of Hocking will not let threats stop them from getting their education. I am sure that's just what the author of these threats would like to see.