Today's Chron of Higher Ed: Colleges To Report Hate Crimes

AnneM (
Fri, 7 Nov 1997 11:30:44 -0500

Chronicle of Higher Education
Daily News 11/7/97

Colleges Would Have to Report Hate Crime
on Their Campuses Under Senator's Bill


Prospective college students would be able to judge the level
of campus civility along with more-traditional qualities, like
academics and public safety, under a legislative proposal
announced Thursday by a U.S. Senator.

Senator Robert Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat, said at a
press conference that he planned to introduce legislation by
the end of this week that would require colleges to report the
number of hate crimes that occurred on their campuses each

The bill would expand the existing federal law that requires all
colleges that receive federal student aid to publish annual
reports containing crime statistics and describing safety
policies and programs. Currently, the colleges must report
hate crimes only when they involve murder, aggravated
assault, or rape.

The bill would expand the current requirement to cover all
crimes, including vandalism, harassment, and simple assault,
that appear to be motivated by prejudice. Colleges now do
not have to include any information about those three crimes in
their annual statistics, but Senator Torricelli said those
offenses are the ones most likely to involve bias.

Colleges now must disclose the number of murders,
robberies, aggravated assaults, two categories of sex offenses,
burglaries, and vehicle thefts reported on their campuses each
year, as well as the number of arrests for liquor, drug, and
weapons violations.

An aide said Senator Torricelli was working with members of
Congress who had introduced a sweeping bill in February that
would expand the current federal law. That bill would increase
the number of crimes that colleges must report on, give the
public access to colleges' disciplinary proceedings, and
require campus police officers to keep daily logs of reported

Under Senator Torricelli's proposal, hate crimes would be
defined as "all criminal incidents that manifest evidence of
prejudice based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation,
ethnicity, or disability that are reported to campus security
authorities or local police agencies." That wording would
expand current requirements, which do not include gender or

Critics often charge that many colleges understate the
incidence of crime on their campuses and that the Department
of Education does almost nothing to enforce the existing law.
In March, the U.S. General Accounting Office noted many lapses
in compliance with the law, including a failure by most
colleges to report hate crimes.

Senator Torricelli acknowledged the compliance problems
and said that enforcement needed to improve. "We are not
without leverage over American universities," he said.

Two experts on campus law enforcement said that
determining whether a crime had been motivated by hatred
can be tricky. An attacker isn't likely to tell a woman that he is
hitting her because he hates women.

Max L. Bromley, an associate professor of criminology at the
University of South Florida and a former associate director of
the university's police department, said that police officers
have to consider many factors, such as a history of conflict
between a victim and an attacker.

Douglas F. Tuttle, a policy scientist at the Institute for Public
Administration at the University of Delaware and the
university's former director of public safety, added: "You have
to take into account things like religious holidays. If there is
vandalism of the Jewish student center on a High Holy Day, it
may not be simple vandalism."

Senator Torricelli described the publication of crime statistics
as an intermediate step that he hoped would lead colleges to
crack down on the problem of hate crime. College, he said,
"is the place to begin to create at least some sanctuary in
American life where people can accept each other."

Anne McAuliffe

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