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Western Washington University canceled classes on Tuesday in response to online hate speech that university President Bruce Shepard said targeted students of color. In a statement announcing the cancellation, Shepard said the threats were not "merely insulting, rude, offensive commentary that trolls and various other lowlifes seem free to spew, willy-nilly, although there has been plenty of that, too. No, this was hate speech." Shepard said the people behind the hate speech had not been identified, and that the campus remained open during the law enforcement investigation.

Since becoming president in 2008, Shepard has used public speaking appearances to stress the need for the university to recruit faculty members, students and staffers of color. "I said before and I’ll say it again: if we -- the faculty and staff, student body, president and administration -- if we 10 years from now are as white as we are today, we will have failed as a university and our commitment to meet the critical needs of our state," he said during the 2012 opening convocation. Last year, the university surveyed the campus on ways that "we make sure that in future years 'we are not as white as we are today,'" according to Campus Reform.