Bias incidents cause groups to take a stand

A series of incidents involving defacement of public postings, physical altercations, and a person of disability targeted with disrespectful comments in a classroom occurred recently at South Puget Sound Community College.

A flier posted in the men’s restroom of the Student Union Building by the Diversity and Equity Center was defaced with racial and homophobic slurs.

A Caucasian student used racial slurs and physical force against another student who was a person of color. A police report was filed with the Olympia Police Department as well as a bias incident report here on campus and a referral was made to SPSCC’s Behavior Intervention Team.

Because of the severity of the situation and to keep the victim’s identity private, college officials did not divulge more specific details of the altercation.

Another student reported that a person with a disability was the target of discriminatory and disrespectful comments during a class at the Hawks Prairie campus.

None of these were of relation to one another, but they happened within the same week of Oct. 3-7.

The Diversity and Equity Center team, student government, and the president’s office came together within their groups to respond to these events.

“We do not want our students or faculty threatened, and we will not hesitate to involve local law enforcement when warranted by the circumstances,” said Dr. Gerald Pumphrey, president of the college.

An emergency meeting was called upon the DEC team by Director of Diversity and Equity Eileen Yoshina.

“We talked about the importance for the community of showing that we, the student leaders and SPSCC representatives, reject bias and will commit to taking a stand against hate in our community,” Yoshina said.

The DEC team wore their team t-shirts and “Not on Our Campus” buttons to show support of their disapproval of these incidences.

They also passed out and received more than 150 signed pledges from faculty, staff, and students who agreed to stand together against hate.

The pledges and buttons are a way for students, staff, and faculty to show support in taking a stand to commit to change, and against any and all hateful actions.

They can be found in the DEC located in building 27 on the ground floor across from the cafeteria. If lights are on in the DEC there is usually a student or staff person there to assist anyone who wants to pick up a button and sign a pledge.

“If you’re not a person of color, you don’t know that this still exists. It feels like this is something that was a long time ago and sometimes there is a question of ‘oh really can’t you get over it?’ Well I guess we can’t really get over it if it still happens,” said Tina Wright DEC team member .

The SPSCC student senate came together and drafted a resolution that takes a formal stance against the incidents that happened on campus which can be found around campus on poster sized boards.

“I was shocked. I’ve always felt safe and accepted on this campus as a female, a Running Start student, and as a student of color. To find out that they were concentrated around the same week is unusual and disheartens me,” said Linh Huynh Senator for Public Relations .

There are several places on campus that a student can go to if they have ever felt violated.

A student can look for a safe zone office.

Staff and faculty who have been trained to support students that have faced bias incidents or hate crimes will have a Safe zone sign posted in each of their offices.
“I am confident that any faculty or staff member would help a student in immediate need,” said Yoshina.

Bias incidents or hate crimes can be reported formally by students in any safe zone by turning a bias incident form in, with campus security, and in the DEC.
If a student feels unsafe, they can anonymously call (360) 596-3235 or email biasreport@spscc.ctc.edu.

Written by Amanda Frank