School investigates racist hoax letter posted online
Chris Kitching, cp24.com
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:13PM EST
An Etobicoke high school is promising to take action if it finds one or more of its students responsible for a hoax letter containing racial slurs.
A snapshot of the letter, which carries Richview Collegiate Institute’s letterhead and is being passed off as a legitimate message from the school, is creating a stir as it circulates on social-networking websites and some people fail to realize it is a prank.
In an online hoax similar to one previously played on McDonald’s restaurants, the letter claims there has been an increase in student robberies and fights at the school, and then suggests that black students are to blame.
“In the halls avoid eye contact with African American students. They have a higher chance of becoming aggressive when confronted,” states the letter, which shows signs of being doctored with photo-editing software. “Due to their aggressiveness African American students will be made to pay an extra fee of $1.50 per purchase in the cafeteria. Thank you for your co-operation.”
Richview Collegiate principal Sam Miceli said students at his school recognized the letter, dated Feb. 7, was a fake and they aren’t making a big deal out of it.
“None of the students want to dignify it with a response,” Miceli told CP24. “They see it as so obviously crude and outlandish that they don’t want to dignify it with a response. They’re frankly too busy getting ready for mid-term tests, getting ready for exams and getting on with their studies.”
Miceli said school and Toronto District School Board officials are investigating the matter, and Toronto police have been notified.
“It’s completely vulgar, racist and offensive. The matter is taken very seriously,” Miceli said. “It’s being investigated and we won’t hesitate to hold whoever is responsible accountable.”
If the hoax was perpetrated by one or more students at Richview Collegiate, Miceli is hoping their classmates will inform school officials.
“In a school of 1,000, if the perpetrators are even our own students, the (others) are Good Samaritans,” he said. “They hear things, they see things and discreetly they’ll come forward as they have in the past and share it with one of the admin team or guidance counsellors.”
Miceli said there are no racial problems at the Islington Avenue school, which he says has a “great diversity of ethnicities” and an active culture club.
The Richview Collegiate hoax is drawing comparisons to an Internet-based prank that targeted McDonald’s restaurants as recently as 2011.
Many people were duped by a snapshot of an authentic-looking letter, accompanied by the McDonald’s logo and taped to a restaurant window. The note was supposedly a response to an increase in robberies.
The fake letter read: “As an insurance measure due in part to a recent string of robberies, African-American customers are now required to pay an additional fee of $1.50 per transaction. Thank you for your co-operation.”
McDonald’s received a storm of anger from people who didn’t realize the letter was a hoax. In response, the fast-food chain took to its Twitter page to assure people that it was a fake.
@ChrisKitching is on Twitter. For instant breaking news, follow @CP24 on Twitter.