By Mariem Qamruzzaman
Daily Staff Reporter
The University has installed a new centralized phone line for victims of hate crimes, but some minority student groups say the administration isn’t doing a good enough job publicizing the phone line or combating hate crimes on campus.
The Division of Student Affairs launched the line, 615-BIAS, last week.
“Quite a few students said they were really confused about where to report such incidents,” Dean of Students Susan Eklund said.
Eklund said administrators assumed students knew to report crimes at the Office of Student Conflict Resolution or other places on campus.
“We realized they didn’t know,” Eklund said.
According to Stephanie Kao, co-chair of the United Asian American Organizations, the phone line should have been created sooner.
She said it should have been up and running well before allegations surfaced last September that two white students had urinated on two Korean students in a racially motivated incident.
Muslim Students’ Association Vice President Wajeeha Shuttari said the phone line could have been useful years ago.
“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have these services available when they were needed,” Shuttari said. “(But) this is an example that the University is trying to improve the current conditions of the campus.”
Although an e-mail was sent to students last week, many didn’t know about the phone line.
Shuttari said the administration should clarify that the phone line is not for emergencies, but is intended for students to voice their concerns to the University.
Eklund wanted to refrain from calling the phone line a hotline because “it’s not the same as dialing 911.”
The line is available from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
When students call the line, a machine directs them to the office they need to consult. Then the staff member handles the specific situation and decides whether it’s appropriate to call DPS, consult OSCR or work with the students on an individual level, Eklund said. If students call after 5 p.m, they can leave a message on the answering machine and the office will get back to them the next business day.
Yet some students said they feel the phone line is “pointless” because most hate crimes occur at night.
“Eight to five is not enough for something as delicate as racism,” LSA junior Ayodele Alli said. Alli is a member of the African Students Association and the Black Student Union.
Eklund said her office also has plans to create a website where students can file online reports.
The line will also give the Dean of Students Office an organized way to track the number of hate crimes or bias incidents that occur each year.
“By having a single place to call, it will allow a single report to come out each year,” Eklund said.