Coalition works to educate U community on hate crimes

by Matthew Gruchow

Members of the Coalition for A Respectful U met Monday to discuss recent racist and anti-gay incidents on campus.

Coalition members said a priority of the group is

educating the community on what constitutes a hate crime and when and how to report one.

“I think one of our biggest challenges is trying to reach the community,” said Grant Anderson, University Housing and Residential Life program director.

Both victims and witnesses must work together to prevent and respond to hate crimes, coalition members said.

The whole University is responsible for coordinating efforts to combat hate crimes and educating the public, they said.

“A lot of the talk was about the need to educate people about the importance of

reporting and about their rights and responsibilities,” said B David Galt, the University’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Programs Office director.

The University needs to form consistent, institutionwide procedures for responding to hate crimes, Galt said.

The community would benefit from a direct response by the University administration to those affected by hate crimes, he said.

“There has not been a consistent and timely response to incidents,” he said. “And in absence of a response, it may lead to victims feeling that the institution doesn’t care or value them.”

One University official said University President Bob Bruininks will address hate crimes on campus during his State of the University address next week.

Timely reporting of hate crimes will help police better investigate them, said Greg Hestness, University police chief and assistant vice president for the Department of Public Safety.

He said he urged the reporting of possible hate crimes even if students or faculty members are not sure the incidents

qualify as hate crimes under the law.

Currently, police are investigating anti-gay statements found on a second-floor wall of Frontier Hall.

That incident follows two other similar incidents Jan. 17 and 27 at Centennial Hall, according to police reports.

In those incidents, an anti-black statement was found in a men’s restroom stall. In the other incident, a note was hung from a string formed into a noose in the trash room of the building.

PoIice have not yet determined whether either incident qualifies as a hate crime under Minnesota law.