SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — San Jose State University reacted consistent with its policies to alleged hate crimes against a black student last fall except that its president was not briefed about them for five weeks, according to a report released Monday.
University employees took action in October on more than dozen incidents at a student housing complex where university police said four white students committed hate crimes against the black student, said Myron Moye, a San Francisco attorney who wrote the independent report.
SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi on Dec. 4 appointed Moye to prepare a fact-finding report on allegations that the four freshman students confined their black roommate with a bike lock, subjecting him to racial slurs or references, pulled various pranks on him and displayed a Confederate flag at their housing suite.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has filed misdemeanor battery charges with a hate crime enhancement against students Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield, Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis, Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre and a fourth student who was a juvenile at the time of the incidents.
The fact-finding report and its conclusions about the incidents will be used by the Special Task Force on Racial Discrimination formed to propose new policies at SJSU to prevent future hate crimes, according to LaDoris Cordell, the task force’s chairwoman.
Moye, Cordell and Qayoumi appeared at a news conference at the university’s administration office Monday to announce the completion of Moye’s report.
Cordell’s 18-member task force, including five SJSU students, three faculty members and campus and state college administrators, will hold the first of six planned public meetings on Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at room 285 in the Engineering Building on campus, Cordell said.
“Our investigation has begun and our job is to take from this investigation, this information, to figure out what recommendations we can make so that this kind of situation can never happen again,” Cordell said.
“I believe that this process, from the very beginning, the fact finding until now, has moved swiftly,” Cordell said.
The task force, after its final meeting on April 17, plans to release its policy recommendations to the SJSU president later that month, well before the end of the spring semester, Cordell said.
“I think it’s important that (students) have these recommendations while (they) are still here in session,” Cordell said.
Moye, in addition to assembling the facts of the case, was also asked by Qayoumi to assess how university employees, such resident advisors as at the student housing complex, administrators and others at SJSU responded to reports about the alleged hate crime incidents.
SJSU employees, after the Oct. 8 discovery of the Confederate flag in the students’ housing suite, met promptly with the black student, offered him support services, contacted police and other investigators, relocated the four students suspected of misconduct and decided to suspend the four suspects from the university, Moye wrote.
“We conclude these responses were appropriate under the circumstances and in accordance with applicable policies and past practices,” Moye said in the report.
“In particular, we were favorably impressed with the awareness of staff to the sensitivity of the situation and their understanding of the importance/significance of their roles/responsibilities in responding to the issues presented to them,” he reported.
However, Moye found that while the university had complied information about the alleged hate incidents by Oct. 14, university police investigated them by Oct. 30, and the district attorney’s office examined the evidence for prosecution, Qayoumi himself “was not briefed fully on this matter before Nov. 20, 2103,” Moye reported.
“The concern…is the lack of leadership presence in this five-week period and the failure to anticipate the potential consequences for the institution and the steps that would have to be taken to address this situation,” Moye said.
But the lapse by the administration did not impede the actions by the university staff to deal with the victimized student’s complaints about the incidents, he added.
Qayoumi said now that the fact-finding report was completed, he hoped that Cordell’s task force would produce “great recommendations that will really help our university become more hospitable and an environment where each student should be comfortable.”
He also said that wanted to make sure that the process would be open to the public and to “make sure that all voices are heard.”
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