Hate crimes need a unified definition

When trying to determine what is hate speech versus freedom of speech and how one classifies what constitutes as a hate crime, it should seem straightforward. But when a college’s Clery Report, considers one incident a hate crime that another school may not, it creates a lot of gray matter.

The Clery Report came about after Jeanne Clery was brutally raped and murdered in her dorm room at Lehigh University in 1986. According to the Clery Center website, her parents advocated and lobbied on Capitol Hill for policy changes.

The Clery Act brings a sense of awareness for students about what is going on around their campus.

Keene State College’s Campus Crime and Fire Safety Report 2016 Edition explains on the fourth page what colleges are supposed to report under the Jeanne Clery Act.

Colleges who follow this act must “publish an annual security report by Oct. 1 that documents three calendar years of campus crime and fire statistics and certain campus security policy statements.” Colleges must disclose their crime statistics on and around campus, maintain an accessible fire log, issue an emergency notice when there is significant danger on campus and maintain a public daily crime log.

The Keene Sentinel reported on graffiti Swastikas that were found in various spots on KSC’s campus back in December 2016. In the original Clery Report that was uploaded to the campus’ website on Oct. 3, 2017, these two incidents were not considered hate crimes.

According to a recent article from The Equinox, after a cabinet meeting KSC Interim President Dr. Melinda Treadwell amended the report to “include both incidents as reported hate crimes.”

It is great that Treadwell is bringing light to this issue and that she amended the report to include the two incidents with Swastikas on campus.

If acts like these go unreported, then what does that say about our campus?

It says that we tolerate hate when many really do not.

In the same article, it was reported that other universities within the University System of New Hampshire (USNH), such as Plymouth State University (PSU) and  University of New Hampshire (UNH), reported zero and three hate crimes, respectively, in their recent Clery Reports. KSC originally reported 18, and then changed it to 20.

When looking at those numbers, something must be off. These universities are similar to KSC in terms of ethnicity and male to female ratio, according to College Factual and College Data’s websites. How is it that a school such as UNH, which is reported to have over 15,000 students, has almost 17 less hate crimes reported than KSC, when the UNH enrollment rate is nearly four times higher than KSC?

And is it really possible for PSU to have absolutely no hate crime incidents in 2016? It all comes down to what each school defines as a hate crime.

Hate crimes were defined in the 2016 KSC Annual Clery Report as a “criminal offense in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim (or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime), because of the actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation of any person.”

The Federal Definition of a hate crime is “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Yet the Department of Education 2016 Handbook for Campus and Security Reporting’s definition goes into specific details on the criminal offenses made, such as burglary, rape, aggravated assault and arson to name a few.

With so many definitions to the term “hate crime” it makes it confusing and allows enough leeway for campuses to get around the definitions.

There needs to be one solid definition of a hate crime that every campus under the Clery Act follows, so that each one can give an accurate and honest count of what occurs on their campus.

There needs to be more consistency in the Clery reports because based on the number of hate crimes that we have seen for 2016 based on KSC, PSU and UNH, there is none.

KSC is one community, and we need to work on changing our perceptions of other ethnicities.

It starts by calling out your friends when they make jokes about someone else. It starts by not yelling the n-word in songs or attacking other religions.

We need to remember that what may be a joke for some, is very offensive to others. In general, we just need to be kind to each other and treat all with respect. You never know what impact your words or actions could have on someone else. The campus can try to report as many crimes as possible, but when it comes down to it, it really depends on us as students. We have the ability to make the changes by being influential among our peers.

X

The Equinox is currently looking for an Opinions Editor for the 2018 spring semester! Click here to apply!

¤