July 31, 2003 — The kidnapping and murder of Matthew Shepherd. Columbine High School. Sept. 11, 2001. These extreme violent hate crimes made international headlines.
But often bias offenses based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnic heritage or culture go unchallenged and unreported. Whatever form these intolerances take-attitudes, verbal slurs, heckling, derogatory letters and e-mails, harassing phone calls, threatening graffiti or damage to property-they present complex and agonizing problems for college campuses.
In an effort to prevent and better respond to infractions of this kind, 32 University of Utah students, faculty, staff and administrators will learn about preventing and taking action against campus hate crimes and offenses at a three-day conference, beginning today, at Fort Douglas.
Sponsored by University Student Affairs Vice President Barbara Snyder and a grant from the S.J. and Jesse E. Quinney Foundation, U participants will attend the “STOP THE HATE!” Campus Hate Crime Prevention Train the Trainer program, developed by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, Tolerance.Org of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence and the National Center for Hate Crime Prevention. This is the first time the intensive, 20-hour training has been presented at the University.
According to Annie Nebeker, associate dean of students, the U participants represent a broad cross-section of campus and come from student government, The Daily Utah Chronicle, Residential Living, the Counseling Center, Greek Council, Student Affairs, Parks Recreation and Tourism and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center.
“We looked for campus representatives who already had a commitment to an inclusive community at the University,” says Nebeker, organizer of the event. “All of the participants will repeatedly share their knowledge with other groups across campus and will teach about the importance of sensitivity, inclusivity and ways to stop violent crime.”
Academic Affairs Vice President Barbara Snyder notes, “This training will allow us to become a more inclusive community that welcomes individual differences and is responsive when hate-related offenses occur. It is difficult to accept that bias exists on our campus, but we wanted to confront this important issue in a direct and effective manner. We are most excited about the enthusiastic response we have received from the campus community.”
Shane L. Windmeyer, co-editor of the book Out on Fraternity Row: Personal Accounts of Being Gay in a College Fraternity, will conduct the training, along with instructors from the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Loss Center.
Training at the conference will include discussions on “The Attraction of Hate,” “The Impact of Hate Crime and Support” and an “Action Plan to Combat Hate,” among other subjects.
“Many students don’t realize that hate-related offenses are against the student code. Students who violate the code can be charged by the U, but sometimes these crimes fall under the jurisdiction of federal laws and the punishment becomes much more severe,” Nebeker says, adding that the U has two or three bias-related offenses each semester. “We think, however, that there are many, many more that go unreported. The problem is, when a hate crime is committed, it victimizes a whole segment of the population, and the offense has so many ripple effects. The goal of this important training is for the University to become an even more tolerant and understanding community.”
For more information on “STOP THE HATE!” Campus Hate Crime Prevention Train the Trainer program at the University, call 801-581-7066. To obtain information on the national program, go www.stopthehate.org.