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BRIEF: Western offers supportive space after recent Canvas message targeting Black students

University yet to say whether this was a hacking incident, or if sender’s identity is known

Old Main on a foggy day in Bellingham, Wash. University Police have yet to give an official statement on the Canvas message and whether it was sent by a Western Washington University Student. // Photo by Eva Waltz

Western Washington University issued a Western Alert on Saturday, Nov. 19, informing students of a violent and racist message sent to students in three courses via Canvas. Western later revealed that the message targeted Black students. 

Other forms of hate speech have been encountered on Western’s campus during the past several years, including antisemitic graffiti on the Viking Union’s free speech board back in October and racist, homophobic and sexually violent graffiti in Nash Hall in 2018. 

University Police have yet to issue an official statement on whether they know the sender’s identity. The message has since been removed from Canvas, according to the alert. 

Provost Brad Johnson and Chief Diversity Officer Jacqueline Hughes sent a follow-up email on Monday, Nov. 21, urging students to seek support from one another and through Western’s professional resources, such as the Counseling and Wellness Center. Johnson and Hughes’ email said that “there are no other indicators of an elevated risk of racially-targeted violence on campus.” 

Western’s Black Student Coalition held a supportive community space in the Viking Union room 504 on Monday to offer solace to anyone affected. 

The violent message was sent from a student’s Canvas account. The Front obtained a screenshot showing that the student reportedly sent a follow-up message insisting that their account had been hacked and that they had not sent the message. University Police and University Communications have not confirmed at this time whether or not this was a hacking incident. 

The Front has reached out to affected students and faculty, though no one has commented on the incident. 

If you or someone you know has been affected by these messages, support is available through the Community Crisis Line, 1-800-584-3578, and the Crisis Text Line, 741-741.

Isabella Loy

Isabella Loy (she/her) is one of two copy editors for The Front this quarter. She's a fourth-year transfer student majoring in news/ed journalism with a concentration in Religious Studies. She has also worked on publications at her community college and at Western's magazine, Klipsun. You can reach her at 

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