It should come as no surprise that hate crimes occur on college campuses. Whether it be in-person harassment or stickers and flyers with hate speech posted around campus, it is a prevalent issue.
Recently, at Western Washington University, seven books were vandalized and destroyed in the Jewish book section of the library. The school’s response to the issue, however, sets an excellent example for other schools.
KOMO news reported that Western is doing more than just replacing the books that were damaged. They are also hosting a public “re-shelving ceremony” with multiple guest speakers and expanding the Jewish book section of the library. These guests include the university president, the dean of libraries and the director of the Ray Walpow Institute for the Study of Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity.
What’s important about the approach the school took in responding is that they went above and beyond in condemning the act and represented the needs of the minority group affected. By not just replacing the damaged books, but also increasing the number of books in that section, it makes a powerful statement in regards to refusing to tolerate hate crimes.
Furthermore, by not just having the leaders of the school speak, but also a Holocaust scholar, they allowed the voice of the unique needs and history of the Jewish people to be presented.
More universities should follow suit, and they should respond to hate crimes that occur on their campuses like Western did.
While the University of Washington responds swiftly to hate crimes, it typically doesn’t go further than sending email alerts out to students and faculty. That is definitely important, but it could be beneficial to be more public and comprehensive in their response.
In early March this year, white supremacist stickers were posted on the UW Tacoma campus. The stickers were promptly removed, and an email was sent out.
Since it was fairly small in comparison to the incident at Western, I understand why no public event was held. It would have been excessive. However, if more drastic incidents occur on the UW Tacoma campus, I hope they will respond similarly to Western.