On hate crimes: an open letter to the University

To the Daily:

In response to recent media reports of a harassment incident between members of our student community as well as the many unreported or unpublicized hate incidents that occur on our campus, we, the undersigned, feel it necessary to reiterate and renew our ongoing commitment to diversity, tolerance and justice.

As members of an academic community committed to the pursuit of knowledge and truth, our diversity is what makes us strong. Thus, the space we share must be safe and accommodating for everyone. An injury to one community member because of race, ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, religious or political belief, nationality, or any other factor of his or her individuality is an injury to us all. Failure to swiftly respond to such an injury demeans the values we as a community hold and trivializes the community’s commitment to these values. As such, we stand in solidarity with others across campus who have already condemned the alleged incidents of hate that occurred against students because of their non-majority identity. United by our values, we ask that the University:

1) Stand behind its public statement strongly condemning acts of hate on campus.

2) Pursue the maximum sanction against the perpetrators of hate crimes, including expulsion.

3) Challenge and enable faculty, staff, students, graduate student instructors and other members of the campus community to proactively educate on the impact of discrimination and importance of our shared values of respect, tolerance and diversity.

4) Institute direct programs to educate students, faculty and staff on the prevention and identification of hate crimes and resources available to victims.

5) Bolster existing resources such as the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and the Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Affairs.

6) Support the efforts, findings and recommendations of the undergraduate and graduate student task force, currently known as Asian-Pacific Islander Americans Change, recently created to address hate incidents on campus.

7) Develop and implement a mechanism to track incidents of this type for use in assessment of the aforementioned initiatives.

8) Further refine the process for handling hate-motivated harassment, such as following through on the unfinished work of the 2004 Campus Safety and Security Advisory Committee.

9) Create a climate safe for victims of hate-motivated harassment to file complaints and seek meaningful redress.

We also encourage community members to stand against hate-motivated harassment through individual action, although we understand the limitations of such actions without the full support of the University in implementing the above measures.

We realize that there is much controversy and debate surrounding the recent hate incident. Yet student and faculty outcry sheds light on the frequency with which these acts occur and go unreported. We hope that the University will not miss this opportunity to institutionalize measures to protect members of the University community and create a more tolerant campus climate.

Finally, we wish to express our support for the victims of hate incidents and dedicate these efforts to them.

Sharon Heijin Lee

Rackham

The letter writer is writing on behalf of American Culture Graduate Students, Graduate Employees’ Organization, Philippine Study Group Student Association, Public Health Students of African Descent, Society of Minority Engineers & Scientists

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