ASUC Authorizes New Committee to Assess Hate Crime Reporting System

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The ASUC Senate passed a bill Feb.16, authorizing the creation of a student committee to assess the functionality and usability of an under-utilized hate crime reporting system that had been developed by the UC Office of the President in response to incidents last spring.

The formation of a student review board is the product of a joint effort of the ASUC and the campus Office of Equity and Inclusion and will be composed of about 15 students who represent a range of communities and grade levels on campus. According to Vice Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri, the board will play a significant role in helping to edit and further develop the reporting site.

In the past, UC Berkeley students had three channels available to report hate crimes - contacting UCPD by phone, contacting the Gender Equity Resource Center by phone or using the reporting form the center provides online. But as of last October, students can also report crimes through the UC Office of the President's "Campus Climate" page online. The page's launch followed controversial incidents across UC campuses, including the "Compton Cookout" at UC San Diego and swastikas drawn on the Clark Kerr Campus at UC Berkeley.

However, although the UC's system debuted four months ago, it has yet to be used by students at UC Berkeley.

All reports that are filed through the new system by members of the campus community are transferred to Billy Curtis, assistant dean of students and director of the campus's Gender Equity Resource Center, who said he has yet to receive a single report from a student.

"Unfortunately, the site does not exist in a form that is best used by students at the moment," Basri said. "Our purpose is to figure out how to get it there."

CalSERVE Senator Stefan Montouth, author of the bill, said the role of the board is to hold the campus accountable for its pledge of zero tolerance for hate crimes.

"You don't really know what students need until you ask," Montouth said. "Representation is key."

The bill states that board member selection, which has yet to begin, will be determined by a temporary committee of four senators, assembled at the senate's Feb. 16 meeting.

"We want to ensure that as many communities are represented as possible through the people we select," said committee member and SQUELCH! Senator Rachel Horning in an e-mail.

Basri said the system has yet to be used by students - or publicized by his office - because its purpose is unclear. Until the program runs more efficiently, which will depend on the input of the board, it will not be widely advocated.

If a student were to use the system as it currently stands, Basri said, it is not clear whether or not the reportwould trigger a formal investigation or any other action.

"I hope it's used for informal reports of campus climate incidents as a way for students to let the administration know what happened," Basri said.

Officials from the UC Office of the President did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Basri said he will have to present suggestions for improving the system to the UCOP and that he hopes a revised system will be available to students by the end of the semester.

Patty Hernandez, a UC Berkeley senior, said that although many of her friends have reported hate crimes to UCPD, little faith exists in the ability of the process to affect change.

"In my community, there's the perception that there's no point in reporting (to the campus)," Hernandez said.

Montouth said the goal of the board is to produce a report with its recommendations and findings by the end of the semester. Because the board is starting halfway through a semester, he said its report may not be as extensive as reports of future semesters and that he hopes to see the process continue.

"All students should feel safe on this campus no matter what race you are, no matter what your beliefs are," Montouth said. "The system is not perfect, but that is why we're working to make it better and why I stress the importance of the review board."


Madeleine Key covers student government. Contact her at [email protected]

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