HE DEATH OF MATTHEW
Shepard last October sank
hearts and raised consciences
nationwide. A series of hate
crimes across America's campuses
followed, and slowly, institutions
known for higher thought and liberal-
ism were becoming testing grounds for
Ots of malevolence.
In light of Shepard's death, hate crimes are being pub-
licized more - but what are colleges and universities
doing to stop them?
Not much, say some students and officials.
"They haven't done anything to keep things from hap-
pening again," says senior Tad Whitaker, a journalism major
at the U. of Wyoming where, before being brutally beaten
and murdered, Shepard had just begun his freshman year.
Whitaker covered the Shepard case for the school's stu-
t newspaper, The Branding Iron. "In a statement, they
they don't expect any repercussions as far as enroll-
ment. Their motto is, 'let time take care of it."'
Reid Oslin, a spokesperson for Boston College, where
an anonymous racist e-mail flooded the accounts of
minority leaders last October, has a slightly different
approach to countering hate crimes. He says the school's
n of attack was to take action - all the way to the FBI.
were not able to apprehend the ones who sent the e-
mail, but we did isolate it to 139 people who were in the
computer lab between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m.," he says. "We
involved the local district attorney, state attorney general
and got technical assistance from the FBI."
In the same city, only days before, a swastika was
found burned into the ceiling of a Boston U. elevator and
painted on a student's door on the eve of Yom Kippur, the
Jewish day of atonement.
And while anti-Semitism is on the decline in the U.S.,
according to a recent report in The Chronicle of Higher
Education, campus incidents increased by 15 percent in
1997. So what are college officials doing to keep these
numbers from affecting their universities' golden reps?
According to Myra Kodner, a spokesperson for Security
on Campus, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the pre-
vention of campus crime, hate crimes often go unreported.
This is illegal according to the Campus
Security Act of 1990, which was amend-
ed in October to give the legislation more
teeth. "Things weren't being reported, so
provisions were added requiring any
authority of a school (nurse, coach, pro-
fessor) who knows about a crime to report keep
it," Kodner says.
The amendment comes at a crucial
time, when gay-bashing, racial slurs and hai i
even murders are occurring on campus-
es nationwide. The Diamondback, U. of - TAD
Maryland's student newspaper, recently U.
caught flak for printing an anti-gay guest
column. Last December, the U. of
Rhode Island campus newspaper ran what several stu-
dents say was a racist cartoon. Black students who
protested the cartoon received threats.
Clemson U. saw a rash of alleged hate crimes strike cam-
pus in October. Local police chalked several eggings up to
racially spurred incidents. And during homecoming week,
the Minority Council's homecoming float was vandalized.
Colleges seldom release statistical information on hate
crimes to the public. University officials often form task
forces and committees in attempts to curb racist hate
crimes, but many people fear these Band-aid remedies
don't accomplish anything. "Just because you see it in the
campus paper, doesn't mean the school files it in their
campus crime reports," says Security on Campus's
Kodner. "If they don't have a perpetrator, they just don't
count the crime."
Contrary to popular opinion, hate crimes aren't limited
to predominately white schools. They can happen any-
where - even at
hIey ha vei't
WHl TA KER,
schools where the minority actually
makes up the majority. Richard J.
Machado, a former UC Irvine stu-
dent - and the first person to be
convicted of a hate crime over the
Internet - was sentenced to one
year in prison, then released from
federal custody on a $10,000
bond. In January '98, Machado
sent e-mail death threats to Asian
students, saying he would kill them
if they didn't leave UCI, a school
whose student population is more
than 50 percent Asian.
More than a year later, UCI junior
Thien Nguyen, is still disturbed by
the incident. "I was a freshman and I knew some of the
people who had received the e-mail," says Nguyen, who
is also chair of the Asian Pacific Student Association at
UCI. "I don't agree with the Court's decision that Richard
Machado was a harmless, distressed young man who
did it without malicious intent. It's one of those
instances where you have the opportunity to really mobi-
lize people and raise the level of awareness. I think
there could have been much more mobilization and
involvement on campus."
Sure, there could have been. And one day there will be.
But the question is: How many more students will have
to be victimized before campus officials take action?
April/May 1999 * w ww.umagazinecom 9