The Western Washington University student body president said Wednesday she no longer feels safe on campus after receiving death threats involving her race.
"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.
Seare compared the racist remarks to incidents at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and on campuses across the nation, including the University of Missouri. Seare said she brought her concerns to 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."
In a statement Wednesday, the university's vice presidents said students who received threats or were subject to hate speech have been offered "enhanced police protection."
"University Police continues to assess campus safety and have taken precautionary measures including stepped up patrols and security on campus and near campus," they wrote. "University Police assessment continues to be that there are no threats to the general campus."
Classes on the Bellingham campus were canceled Tuesday because of “disturbing and very threatening” comments posted on social media targeting students of color, President Bruce Shepard said.
Authorities are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime and it’s believed this is the first time classes at a college or university in Washington have been suspended because of a threat on social media, according to the Seattle Times.
The series of threats were posed on Yik Yak, an anonymous social media platform popular among college students. Seare and others at the news conference said there have been other social media posts as well.
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 threats came days after some student leaders, including Seare, suggested the mascot is racist.
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.
Community member Rosalinda Guillen said the university is not living up to its policies or its image.
"These amazing women have taken a courageous stand," Guillen said. "We don't believe that this community is taking adequate action to protect them."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.