Independent Committee Addresses Hate Crimes

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Independent Committee Addresses Hate Crimes

Dean Desciak and Father DeCola reside in McKeon Hall. (CONNOR MANNION/THE OBSERVER)

Dean Desciak and Father DeCola reside in McKeon Hall. (CONNOR MANNION/THE OBSERVER)

Dean Desciak and Father DeCola reside in McKeon Hall. (CONNOR MANNION/THE OBSERVER)

Dean Desciak and Father DeCola reside in McKeon Hall. (CONNOR MANNION/THE OBSERVER)

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By KYNDAL JACKSON and MACKENZIE HARTE
Contributing Writers

On Sep. 13, 2015, a black student at Rose Hill reported that a racial slur had been carved into his door. Just a week later, a swastika was found within the same building. Over a month later, there were four opportunities to attend ‘Incidents of Hate’ sessions for residents at Lincoln Center to discuss these crimes. At these sessions, no safety plan was presented to students to show that they were being protected or that these crimes would be prevented in the future. And sure enough, on Wednesday, November 11, a second swastika was found on our own campus.

These hate crimes have shown us two things:

1. Racism is alive and well at Fordham University—at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses.

2. We do not have an adequate enough safety plan to prevent these incidents, or more frighteningly, even more violent acts on our campus.

Following a series of discussions with fellow students, we determined that the best way to confront these issues would be to form an indepen- dent student-driven committee to research student experiences and opinions, and then use this data to present solutions to safety problems we face on this campus.

This is a major endeavor, so clearly there are a lot of questions. Here are a few of the questions we have received most often:

  • Are you involved with USG?

No. We are an independent committee, though we invite any members of USG to take part in whatever way they are comfortable.

  • What is the goal of this committee?

The major goal of this group is to collect student data, and report the data along with safety recommenda- tions in a comprehensive report to the administration, Public Safety and the Office of Residential Life.

  • If you are independent, how do you to work with the administra- tion?

While we are independent, we have maintained a positive relation- ship with administrative groups. We will be conducting our work independent of the administration, but plan on keeping them in the loop
so that they are aware of our efforts and the legitimacy of our research.

  • Why is this committee independent when you could just work with administrative offices?

We do not believe that students—all students—would feel comfortable sharing their honest opinions when they know that the administration is sponsoring a group, particularly student employees. We want to provide anonymity to students who feel uncomfortable sharing directly with the adminis- tration so that we can remove any of the apprehension they have so we can have more legitimate and comprehensive results.

  • How do you plan on organizing this committee?

We want the committee to be open to all students who want to be involved, and we invite anyone who is interested to join in. We are in the preliminary stages of data collection, but once we identify key areas that we would like to investigate, we plan on forming subcommittees so that students can take part in their areas of interest, directly.

  • What are your methods for data collection?

We have one preliminary survey that we want all Lincoln Center stu- dents to take. We plan on conduct- ing all of our data collection efforts through surveys. We understand that students may not want to take a ton of these surveys, so we promise to try to keep them to a minimum!

  • I’m interested, what can I do?

First things first, take our survey, which can be found linked on the Observer website.

Secondly, contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] We’ll let you know of our next steps and will be thrilled to have you on board!

We are so excited to be working on this; these issues are incred- ibly important. We understand that policy review and reform is time-consuming and, frankly, not the most exciting activity. But we believe passionately that we are not the safest we could be, and we want to do anything we can to fix that.