College tells students to report ‘hate speech’ to police
The president of Santa Monica College is urging students who witness “hate speech” to file a report with campus police.
“Reaffirming SMC’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion” was emailed to all students and staff on May 3 after an unknown “outside visitor brought hate speech onto one of Santa Monica College’s campuses.”
“This will not be tolerated,” writes President Kathryn E. Jeffries. “If you are the target of hate speech or witness it, you should immediately contact the Santa Monica College Police Department at (310) 434-4300 or submit an anonymous report to campus police.”
The email also encouraged students “not to engage with the individual causing such an incident,” instead referring them to the school’s crime reporting form, which allows students to anonymously claim incidents such as theft and assault.
Notably, a drop-down list to select the “type of crime being reported” does not include a category for “hate speech,” asking students to briefly describe the incident if it does not fall under the categories of “theft,” “vandalism,” “assault,” or “drug offense.”
Reached by Campus Reform, SMC spokeswoman Grace Smith explained that reporting hate speech is important because incidents of bias are “considered a serious breach of community expectations, and need to be reported to allow for appropriate investigation.”
“Hate speech can lead to violence, and the role of campus police is to preserve peace,” Smith added.
Though she noted that hate speech itself is not a crime, “when it is coupled with an element of bias and tied to another crime such as assault or vandalism, that’s when campus police would investigate it as a potential hate crime.”
In that case, she said, “campus police would hand over the investigation to a local prosecuting authority in such a case to provide the verdict.”
SMC Chief of Police Johnnie Adams told Campus Reform that anonymous reports are valuable because they can still be referred to the local police.
“Additionally, by understanding the campus climate the school can provide outreach and support to communities impacted and communities potentially impacted,” he explained.
When asked why the school encourages anonymous reports, though, Adams backtracked, claiming, “We encourage both, but give the individual the option.”
When pressed, he declined to clarify the preference for anonymous reporting stipulated in the campus-wide email, simply saying that “all schools of Higher Education must report certain crimes/incidents to the Department of Education,” per the federal Clery Act.
Although the email only referenced an act of “hate speech,” The New York Post reports that the 80 year-old suspect was charged with misdemeanor battery for physically attacking a young black woman over a parking dispute.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen