DEERFIELD, Ill. – Three students at a small Christian university have received racially motivated hate mail, officials said, and a threat of violence in the latest letter prompted authorities to move dozens of students to a hotel.
Police and officials at Trinity International University (search) declined to discuss details of the threats Friday but said the letters did not involve interracial dating.
The letters were addressed to specific students, and two were sent on notebook paper through the university's internal mail system, suggesting that the writer is on campus, the officials said. Professors were being asked to try to identify the handwriting.
The three letters arrived during the past two weeks, school spokesman Gary Cantwell said. He said students were moved off campus Thursday after the third letter was shown to administrators.
Bannockburn Police Chief Kevin Tracz said the school suggested that students should be given the option to stay in a hotel because the threats came within days of the anniversaries of the shootings at Columbine High School (search), the Oklahoma City bombing and the fiery end of the Branch Davidian (search) compound siege in Waco, Texas.
"They just didn't want to take any chances, and I agree with them," Tracz said Friday.
Dean of Students William Washington said 43 students spent the night at a hotel, and others stayed with family or friends.
Classes were being held Friday as usual.
"I would describe the attitude of our students as upbeat, appreciative and eager for things to get back to normal," Washington said.
Late last year, authorities said black professional football players and other prominent black men around the country, as well as high school athletes in Cleveland, had received threatening letters denouncing interracial relationships.
Those letters, postmarked from cities in northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania, direct the recipients to end any such relationships "or they're going to be castrated, shot or set on fire." Most were signed "angry white woman" or "angry Caucasian woman."