UT needs to adopt an anti-hate crime policy immediately

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Last February, junior Tucker Sauer was reported throwing glass bottles and saying “fuck you, n----” at mathematics senior Cody Young. This prompted President Gregory Fenves to address the issue by announcing that Sauer had been suspended until 2017. However, last week many students protested the University’s response, raising concerns about Sauer’s punishment being insufficient and demanding a comprehensive policy to treat this issue in the future.

The unfortunate reality of the situation is that this hate crime against Young at the University of Texas isn’t isolated. There have been countless numbers of hate crimes conducted against many minorities, including members of the African-American, LGBT and Muslim communities. Currently, UT-Austin doesn’t have a well-developed policy to combat this epidemic of hate, which is ironic because colleges use campus diversity as a selling point to potential students. Mohammed Nabulsi, a second-year law student, told the Daily Texan about necessity of the University to have anti-hate crime policy.

“UT doesn’t have a hate crime policy, which is a problem,” Nabulsi said. “Students of color have experienced hate crimes here. Fenves needs to address the amount of hate some students get.”

Universities have made diversifying their campuses a top priority but have been reluctant to deal with the consequences — hate crimes. According to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, the amount of reported hate crimes on college campuses has been anywhere from 650 to almost 1,000 each of the last seven years nationwide. But according to the Department of Justice, many hate crimes, especially among LGBT students, go unreported for fear of possibly inciting more hate against them.

The city and UT-Austin have an infamous history of such events, from having “bleach bombs” thrown at black students in 2012 to a Muslim woman being harassed at Kerbey Lane late last year and numerous others. Mae Rose Hill, an African and African diaspora studies senior, told the Daily Texan about her perception of the UT environment toward minorities.

“It just needs to stop,” Hill said. “[My mother] wanted me to come here because she thought it would be a better environment now, but it’s only gotten worse.”

The Department of Justice notes that any solution to curbing hate crimes on campus needs to be more than policy. Solutions need to include providing campus police adequate training in responding to hate crimes, creating an environment in which students are able to report any hate crimes against them, and disseminating incidents of hate crimes to staff, administration and the campus community.

Universities have to do more than accept students from diverse backgrounds, because doing so doesn’t necessarily translate into magically having a hospitable environment for every single person. Unless schools establish a comprehensive system for punishing and preventing hate crimes committed against minority students, campus diversity as statistical marketing to future students will be meaningless.

Choudhury is an economics freshman from Richardson. He is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @MubarratC.