Bias Incident Reporting is Designed to Curb the Rise in Hate Crime

On Nov 30, Eileen Yoshina, director of diversity and equity, sent a campus wide message through canvas addressing the rise of hate crimes and bias incidents on campus. “Most of the reported incidents are from people who voted for Trump who feel unsafe on campus” claims Yoshina. There are also incidents where, “students of color have been called the n-word and told to go back to Africa” and Muslim students that have been called terrorists. Most of these issues were being reported via “word of mouth” which inspired Yoshina to create South Puget Sound Community College’s bias report system, to fully record the magnitude of bias incidents and hate crimes on campus.

Although many of the official bias reports on campus have been from Trump supporters, the incidents against minorities and Muslims more closely align with the prevailing trend across the country. Women, Muslims, Latinos, people of color, and Jews have been severely affected by the election rhetoric and have experienced an increase in targeted hate crimes. Muslims suffering the worst of it with a 67% rise in hate incidents since last year.

Southern Poverty Law, a nonprofit organization that monitors domestic hate groups including the Ku Klux Klan, released a report Nov 29 tracking bias activity since the election. The first ten days after the election there were 867 reported “bias related incidents”. A teacher survey by Southern Poverty Law, which included 10,000 educators, reported that 90 percent of those surveyed stated that the school environment has been negatively influenced.

In Washington State alone, there are eight major white supremacist groups discovered by SPL. Olympia is home to white supremacy groups such as the Christian Identity Adherents, who appeared at the Black Lives Matter rally in May 2015. The stabbing of an interracial couple that took place in downtown Olympia last August, was connected to a white supremacy member, though his specific group was never identified.

In the next few months, hate crimes are expected to skyrocket. Washington State Representative, Jim McDermott, stated during his retirement address to the House of Representatives that we must prepare for “this menacing wave of nativism, misogyny and racism” that will “come during the next four years”.

SPL is hoping to diminish the negative effects of the November election by urging President-elect Trump to distance himself from hate groups that currently endorse him. The President of SPL, Richard Cohen, has presented a petition requesting Trump to “assure the country that no one associated with any hate group or any form of extremism will have a position” within the Trump administration. If Trump distances himself from groups who commit hate crimes, Cohen hopes the negative effect of this election will be cut down.

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