March 30, 2023

Student finds racially-charged death threat on apartment door, president calls for university-wide conversation

Upon returning to his Capital Commons apartment at 1 a.m. last Saturday, junior Jalen Mitchell found a threatening note with racial slurs and swastikas taped to his back door.

threating note

According to the latest Safety Bulletin update, Capital University Police is investigating this occurrence as “a report of aggravated menace.” No university officer was available for further comment.

“I’m not sure who did it. And I don’t know if it was a sick joke, but I definitely feel I’ve been targeted, like someone is constantly watching me,” Mitchell said.

It is not clear whether the perpetrator is a Capital student or a non-student.

“I saw it and I was stunned. Shocked,” said Mitchell. “I ran into the house and texted my roommates.”

Mark Bartus, the only roommate in town at the time, was asleep and did not read Mitchell’s text until later that morning.

“I didn’t want him to stay in the apartment, whether it was a hoax threat or not,” Bartus said. “I was fuming and really, really disgusted by [the note] and that someone felt the need to do that, not that their reason would be excusable.”

Bartus was not the only one outraged. On Saturday afternoon, Mitchell shared a picture of the note on Facebook. The post received more than 220 likes and 130 comments from concerned friends, family members, and faculty.

Asked whether he feels safe on campus now, Mitchell said he has grown more aware of his surroundings and makes sure his doors are locked all the time.

As for Mitchell’s emotional well-being, the junior music performance major said he finds strength in his faith, the foundation he was given as a child, and love from his Capfam.

“There’s something that I’m supposed to learn and get from this situation,” Mitchell said. “As alone as I may feel, I’m not alone. I’m a fighter. You don’t give up because something like this happens. Your fight might be an example someone else needs to look to so they come out just as victorious as you were before this happened.”

Mitchell believes that Capital and the campus community handled his situation in the best way it can.

“Res Life [Resident Life] was offering me multiple places to stay,” Mitchell said. “But because it happened on a weekend and the perpetrator was extremely anonymous, no one saw anything …When it’s so unwarranted and so random, I’m not sure how much more they can do.”

Capital is not exempt from the racial tension breaking across many American universities, seen through the student protests at the University of Missouri and locally at The Ohio State University.

“I feel like I’ve always known there’s a certain hidden racism at Capital,” Mitchell said. “When you look at the school’s demographics, [students] will be unintentionally [and] naturally divided. I do believe there are things being done to bridge the gap, but [it’s] not enough. Racism is not exempt anywhere. As much as we like to think how progressive and diverse we are, racism is no respecter of person. Persons, institutions, organizations—it doesn’t matter. This issue will come [to our campus] if we choose to ignore this situation.”

In light of the hate crime committed against Mitchell and other tragic events happening in the world, President Denvy Bowman called for a university-wide conversation about “diversity and inclusion and the essence of human dignity” at 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16 in the Kerns Religious Life Center Chapel.

Conversation leaders will include Almar Walter, director of Capital’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI); Pastor Gary Sandberg, dean of the chapel; and Branden Smith, associate director of the ODI.

This event will be the first of many community conversations to come that will help Capital “continually and collaboratively build a culture that demonstrates an uncompromising commitment to selflessness and respect for others,” said Bowman in his email to the university.


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