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University of Montana looking into hate email sent to faculty and staff

Posted: 4:00 PM, Jan 21, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-21 18:01:02-05
University of Montana looking into hate email sent to faculty and staff

University of Montana officials are investigating an alleged hate mail sent to employees and faculty on Saturday night.

Paula Short, UM communications director, said the email “appears to be spam and there was not a heightened safety concern on campus based on the email.” The contents of the email weren’t disclosed.

The campus Internet Technology (IT) office is investigating.

“There was a hate email (with attachments) sent to a number of employees and faculty. It is still determining the exact number,” said Short.

Officials reported the incident to the Montana Human Rights Network. Short said the university wanted to forewarn others who may have not received the follow-up message.

To alleviate any fears or ward off any potential rumors, UM President Seth Bodnar sent out a campus-wide email on Sunday to students, faculty and staff, notifying them of the suspicious email and assuring them that the university is working to trace the source of the hate email.

“Late last night, a group of UM faculty and staff were targeted by a hateful email that expressed ideas that are against everything Martin Luther King, Jr., stood for and that are counter to our shared UM belief in the dignity of every person,” Bodnar wrote.

“The email was an affront to our values and what we as a community believe and seek to uphold. To all who received the email, we are saddened and diminished by this act of hatred, and we support you. We are investigating its origin and will take appropriate action.”

Bodnar’s email left some students pondering the incident on Martin Luther King Day, when campus was closed to observe the national holiday and corresponding National Day of Service.

“Sadly, this is not the first time an email like this has been received on our campus and it will not be the last,” wrote Bodnar. “We will continue to receive them and each time, we will respond appropriately and in a timely manner.”

As the UM community prepared for an MLK Day community celebration at St. Anthony Catholic Parish, Bodnar said speaking out against hate and fostering inclusion remain key goals.

“As we acknowledge that UM sits on aboriginal lands and as we celebrate MLK Day as a ‘day on,’ let us remember that we still have work to do to build a more inclusive and equitable society,” he said. “The message sent last night is but one example of how hatred, allowed to fester, can undo the good work of many.”

Contact Business Reporter Renata Birkenbuel at 406-565-0013 and renatab@missoulacurrent.com .