Administration struggles to respond to anonymous reports of hate speech on campus

A note, allegedly slipped under the door of a faculty member on Nov. 8 at MCTC, urges the faculty member and their family to go back to North Africa and was signed “The Confederate States of America”.

The suspect, Matthew Brown, is of interest to the Minneapolis Police Department regarding a separate but similar incident in Minneapolis. According to an email sent by Dr. Jay Williams, Interim Director of Diversity, the suspect has been put on the FBI’s watchlist. Special Agent Jeff VanNast of the FBI would not comment beyond saying, “We are aware of the incident…we do not confirm or deny a FBI investigation.”

According to Jacqueline Roosevelt, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs in the Student Senate, nine students have reported incidents of hate speech with one of them being a direct threat that the student should, “Go back to [their] country or something bad will happen.”

So far, with the exception of the faculty member who reported the incident to the Minneapolis Police Department, the alleged victims have decided to stay anonymous, refusing to speak with law enforcement, MCTC administration or City College News in the fear that possible retaliation could be worse than the hate speech they endured.

This silence brought on by fear creates a problem when it comes to a solution from the MCTC administration and law enforcement. In response to being told of the unreported hate speech incidents, Lt. Christopher House, Minneapolis Police Department liaison to MCTC, said that he hasn’t heard of an uptick in hate crimes and “It’s tough to police by rumor.”

Efforts to urge the student body to report hate speech through proper channels have been highlighted by Dr. Williams in multiple emails sent to students and faculty, but that even those that are reported face an uphill climb because “So many things come to me that are veiled in their intention.”

However, when those incidents are reported through proper channels, the action taken is swift. Dr. Williams, Matthew Crawford, the Dean of Enrollment, Patrick Troup, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs and Curt Schmidt, the Director of Public Safety met with the alleged victim and two employee divisions about how to keep employees safe. A picture of Brown along with his name was posted in the office area where the alleged incident happened and Public Safety made Brown sign a trespassing notice.

According to Dr. Williams, “…it’s really hard to quantify any numbers [regarding hate speech]” because of the fear of the retaliation and “We struggle…we have our challenges but we need to focus on what we can do.”

That has taken the form of trying to open a protective dialogue with faculty and the student body, regardless of your political beliefs. During a peace rally at MCTC in response to the alleged incidents of hate speech, Dr. Williams said “[He] wants this to be an inclusive space for all. If you voted for Donald Trump, if you voted for Hillary Clinton, if you voted for Jill Stein, we have to come together.”

Incidents of alleged hate speech have risen since the election of Donald Trump. As of Nov. 18 the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 867 incidents of hate speech.

To report incidents of hate speech or harassment you can call Public Safety at 612-659-6900 or stop by their desk on the 2nd floor of the T-plaza by the parking garages. You can also contact The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities by phone at 612-200-5281, by email at studentcomplaints@minneapolis.edu or stop by their offices at T.2300.

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