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Members review hate crimes, discuss solutions

Nicole Toczauer | Monday, February 27, 2012

Members of Campus Life Council (CLC) discussed the two recent instances of hate crime on campus and how to best address them as a community.

Brittany Suggs, chairman of the Black Students Association (BSA), said she discovered fried chicken in the BSA mailbox on Feb. 20, and the African Student Association found chicken patties in their mailbox on Feb. 14.

“People are upset. Some have expressed sheer disgust with the issue,” Suggs said. “It’s time for the campus community to come together and discuss how to proceed on this matter.”

Suggs said the BSA will hold a town hall meeting on March 5 at 8 p.m. in Geddes Hall.

Together, those who attend will create a timeline with concrete plans to address negative attitudes and behaviors on campus, she said.

“I hope after this meeting and the timeline is carefully constructed, we can email the proposed ideas out to the student body,” Suggs said. “This makes us accountable because we said we would do this.”

Suggs said she also is advocating for students to file reports when hate crimes occur.

“A paper trail is a good way to push the administration to deal with this matter,” she said. “Other cases of discriminatory harassment are undocumented.”

Diversity Council representative Alexa Arastoo said documentation of hate crimes is essential for the administration to make progress on the issue.

“The administration requires numbers and facts, and even if there’s a lot of support behind it, they need more,” Arastoo said. “I’d like to think it could be done more easily, but it’s a tough process. You’ve seen with [proposals for the Gay Straight Alliance] alone, they’ve had over a dozen years behind that and no changes.”

Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS), said students can now file reports online at dulac.nd.edu.

“What we are really trying to do is educate students on how simple the process is,” Outlaw said. “It’s important for issues such as this and sexual harassment to be noted officially.”

Outlaw said students need to know the University will not tolerate these acts.

“It may not change attitude, but it will certainly change behavior,” she said.

Suggs said another possible way to educate students could be to require students to take a semester-long cultural confidence class. The class would facilitate discussion between students on race and different cultures, she said.

“Personally, I’m a [psychology] major and don’t reference philosophy on a daily basis, which we’re required to take,” she said. “But I do reference how I react to my peers and different cultures every day.”

Arastoo said the class could provide students with fundamental education on racism and respect. She said the information given in Contemporary Topics classes is not sufficient for some people.

“For some people [in Contemporary Topics] the information isn’t even in one ear and out the other. It doesn’t even go through the ear at all,” she said. “It’s hard to do these educational things because everyone needs to be schooled on race at first.”

Suggs said students need to voice their opinions on the matter.

“It’s up to us to not forget, as much as it is for the administration to follow through,” she said. “If it’s important to the campus, then that push, that drive will be there.”

She said if students have ideas, suggestions or a desire to be more involved, they are welcome to contact her.

After closing the discussion on the recent hate crimes, members of the CLC discussed progress made in developing the Leprechaun Legion.

Student body president Pat McCormick said the goal behind expanding the Leprechaun Legion is twofold.

“First we want to make sure there’s an institutionalized way for students to communicate with Athletics Department for the experience, ticketing and pep rallies that come up year to year,” McCormick said.

The second goal, he said, is to address the concerns of student athletes.

“Student athletes represent 9 percent of the student population, and in a recent survey, they did not feel like student government was a vehicle where they could have their concerns taken into consideration,” he said.

McCormick said he hoped the legion could ultimately deepen the relationships between athletes, fans and administrators.