Hate crimes prompt campus campaign
The Arizona Daily Wildcat
Three large-scale hate crimes on the UA campus last semester induced shock and outrage in the Department of Multicultural Programs and Services, resulting planned movement against intolerance.
"I was really naive because I usually feel really safe but when I heard about the cross burning I felt disheartened," said Mai Luc, interim program coordinator for Asian Pacific American Student Affairs.
Each of the three hate crimes - an assault on an Asian-American student, a threatening letter to a Hispanic student group, and a burning cross left in front of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building - occurred in the fall semester.
DMPS is withholding the name of the assaulted student for safety.
"We decided that we need to be pro-active about it by doing something that is positive and not victimizing," said Kendal Washington White, associate director of DMPS.
Washington White said DMPS will not allow itself to be viewed as a victim, but will use the events as an incentive to promote tolerance and help hate crime victims break the silence.
"I don't think many people knew about these events (because) hate crimes are things that often go on, but people don't report them," she said.
"Nobody wants to believe that these types of things are still happening," Washington White said, adding that people tend to think such disheartening hate crimes cannot happen in their community because society is so advanced.
Veda Hunn, assistant dean of students, said her office urges students to come forth in the event of a hate crime and speak out against the incident to prevent future instances.
"Anytime a student is a victim of this type of incident, they have to be reported even if they don't want any kind of trouble because it gives us the ability to inform our community about the things that are going on on this campus," Hunn said.
DMPS is now taking preventative measures to show intolerance on the UA campus is not acceptable.
"As the crimes became known to us, we grew concerned and afraid the campus didn't know about these incidents - we needed to respond in some way," said Lynette Cook Francis, director of DMPS.
She added that as concerns began to arise, DMPS formed the Stop Hate campaign, which would "offer a general response and give the opportunity to respond in some symbolic way to show (the centers) would not be tolerant of these events."
Cook Francis said there have been approximately 200 responses on the Stop Hate campaign.
Although few hate crimes are reported on the UA campus, Cook Francis cited research in the Review of Higher Education that reveals "one million of these kinds of events happen each year on college campuses."
These crimes, she said, are of varying degrees from a racial joke to a cross burning.
Cook Francis said she hopes the response shown by DMPS with the campaign will give the university community the opportunity to show some solidarity with Stop Hate buttons.
"I don't pretend the kinds of (hate) events will be lessened by people wearing the buttons, but I think when we see each other wearing the buttons we will see one another as people who are in support of diversity and plurality," she said.
"We realize it's just the beginning, it's not the end."