The FBI is investigating racist emails sent to Harvard Business School students, according to a report from The Harvard Crimson. An email sent March 28 to 18 board members of the HBS African-American Student Union contained racial slurs and a threat of violence to the board members. The next day, Dean Nitin Nohria sent an email to the entire full-time MBA student body condemning the email, assuring students that authorities did not believe students were in immediate danger and that an investigation would be launched.
“We have taken immediate steps, including to notify the police, and we are doing everything we can to support our students and to learn more about the incident,” Nohria wrote March 29, according to The Harvard Crimson. “Our initial assessment is that there is no concern of direct physical harm to any member of our community, but we are investigating the matter fully.”
Nohria also wrote about the need for the rest of the HBS community to offer extra support to the African-American community, The Crimson reported.
“Hate speech and hate crimes threaten our shared humanity. When an act such as this is aimed at our campus, it is important that we stand in solidarity and reaffirm the values we hold dear,” Nohria wrote.
“I hope you will join me in reaffirming and ensuring that Harvard Business School is a place where every individual is respected and honored.”
AASU, OTHER STUDENTS PLEASED WITH HBS’S RESPONSE TIME AND HANDLING OF THREATS
The Harvard Crimson spoke with Kel Jackson, the outgoing conference co-director for the AASU and current second-year MBA student at HBS, who said the racist email “appears” to have originated from outside of the U.S. Jackson told The Crimson that the university informed him and others that campus police and HBS security had made the FBI and local authorities aware of the threat, and that the email didn’t lead campus authorities to believe any students were at immediate risk.
HBS officials did not confirm or deny the FBI’s involvement in the case, The Crimson reported.
“The thing that has been consistent is that they do not expect any imminent physical threat associated with this email,” Jackson told The Crimson.
Jackson said he and other current students were pleased with the official response and speed in which the school acted on the threats. “Speaking for myself and others I can remember reacting, folks appreciated … the seriousness of the intent and the speed with which it was executed,” he told The Crimson.
A SLEW OF RECENT RACE-RELATED ISSUES AT HARVARD
Racial tensions and inclusivity have been in the news at Harvard recently. Late last year, the school wrapped up a lawsuit involving admissions discrimination and Asian-American students. Another lawsuit was brought against the university last month involving the founder of the university’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, who had ties to slavery and racism.
Then, earlier this year, a transgender MBA applicant sued HBS, alleging discrimination against transgender applicants.
The co-presidents of the HBS AASU have been contacted by Poets&Quants for comment. This article will be updated with their comments if they can be reached.