The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Speaking up and speaking out


Administration needs to make a change

In the week since the Nov. 28 issue of The Hawk published the “Racial slur left on students’ dorm room door” article, we have seen students, faculty and staff stand up and display their outrage at the racial incident that occurred the night of Sept. 28.

That outrage towards the act itself then morphed into a sense of frustration, disappointment and concern at the lack of clear and effective communication for upper-administrative people.

What we as a community have noticed is a negligent display on the part of the administration to respond to the Sept. 28 incident in ways that reflect and acknowledge the anger and frustration that much of the campus community is feeling.

It is incredibly damaging that the administration refuses to acknowledge the incident explicitly within their correspondence to the students, faculty and staff.

The messages that came from both University President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D. , and Cary Anderson, Ed.D., associate provost and vice president of Student Life, used vague and evasive language to stymied the administration’s culpability in the wake of the Nov. 28 issue of The Hawk.

While the search for a new chief diversity officer and resources that we can turn to are important and necessary, the administration seems to not understand exactly how to respond to the outrage from the St. Joe’s community or really the initial incident itself.

The administration seems remarkably out of touch to the concerns of the community, if the correspondence from Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 is any indication.

This is especially concerning in the wake of what seems to be a tide of bias incidents and hate crimes on college campuses. According to the FBI, hate crimes on colleges campuses increased 38 percent in 2016 alone.

The appropriate level of scrutiny needs to be taken in response to these incidents regardless of whether they are deemed “bias incidents” or hate crimes.

The university’s standards for what is a bias incident and what is considered a hate crime needs to communicated and understood as well. The Student Handbook says that a bias incident “[refers] to conduct, speech, images, or expression that demonstrate conscious or implicit bias which targets individuals or groups based on, but not limited to, the protected statuses.”

The handbook also says,“Hate crimes…are any crimes that manifest evidence that a victim or group was selected because of actual or perceived race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, or disability”. There is a way in which these two terms can be confused for the other and incidents can be met with a lack of prosecution by or inaction on the part of the administration.

One way that the St. Joe’s community can call for this reforming of how the prosecution of bias incidents on campus is to speak up.

The Black Student Union’s forum, which was held on Dec. 3, was a step in the right direction. All of the community coming together to talk about how this incident has made them feel and how we can move forward as a university is important. But we need to push for continuous efforts to keep this at the forefront of the community’s mind.

If we do not continue to fight what we see as egregious negligence and ignorance on the part of the university, incidents like the ones that happened to those two women will continue on this campus and justice will not be served.

A message of tolerance is not what the St. Joe’s community wants or needs. A message of unequivocal condemnation of racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, etc. behavior is what our community wants and needs. The administration needs to wake up to the clearly articulated frustration of the St. Joe’s community and apologize for their part in the diminishing of a racial incident on this campus. They then have to move forward with the safety and the protection of St. Joe’s students in mind.

—The Editorial Board

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