Task force broaches NU’s hate-crime policies

Alexander Lee

A new anti-hate-crimes committee, created in response to racial epithets found on university property during Winter and Spring Quarters, is working with Northwestern administrators this summer to reform conduct policies and enact new programs for New Student Week.

The 11-member hate crimes task force committee was chosen during Reading Week to ensure better communication between NU students and administrators and to help create guidelines for disciplining those who commit hate crimes.

Co-chairmen Richard Goldberg and Kasim Arshad met July 8 with William Banis, vice president for student affairs, and discussed a new civility and violence policy that will address incidents of bias.

“This policy will serve as a starting point to establish standards as to what is acceptable behavior,” said Goldberg, a Medill junior.

Goldberg said Banis told him the new policy will be added to the student handbook before fall, and that the administration would create new diversity programs to integrate and educate students during New Student Week.

“I feel that things are moving and that the environment is set so the task force can proceed with ease in developing a system that will help students deal with hate crimes,” said Arshad, a Weinberg junior.

The chairmen also spoke with University Police Chief Bruce Lewis about how law enforcement officers will handle similar crimes in the future.

“He assured us that his top priority was to come up with a police procedure and a cohesive protocol to make sure they find the perpetrator of these incidents,” Goldberg said.

The task force was established after Tracy Carson, coordinator of For Members Only, the black student alliance, and several other groups drafted a bill asking Associated Student Government to create an anti-hate-crimes committee.

In addition to Arshad and Goldberg, members of the committee are: Chiamaka Acho, Evan Fieldman, Ketica Guter, John Hughes, Ben Kohlmann, Marisa Maldonado, Joshua Miller, Rabeah Sabri and Naureen Shah. Hughes and Maldonado both are former Daily editors.

David Sayyed, a Law and Kellogg student, is a non-voting member of the committee.

“Our purpose is to among other things keep open communication between students and the administration,” said Sabri, a Weinberg sophomore. “And to bring swifter and concrete action in response to the hate crimes.”

Sabri said she is a close friend of Weinberg senior Nazia Kazi, who was targeted by a racial epithet at Foster-Walker Complex in March.

According to the ASG Senate bill, the committee must submit a preliminary report to ASG, Hillel Cultural Life and the Coalition of Color, an alliance of cultural groups on campus, by Oct. 31 of this year.

The task force currently is researching what other universities have done in response to hate crimes.

“I plan to look at how the University of Chicago and other universities in the Chicagoland area have handled hate crimes by reading their Web sites, school papers and researching their student groups,” said Guter, a Weinberg sophomore.

Arshad and Goldberg said they also will research peer institutions and again meet with Banis. The chairmen also plan to meet with Jennifer Meyers, the student transitions coordinator, and Mary Desler, associate vice president for student affairs, during the summer to discuss programs for New Student Week.