The intersection at 14th and G St. where a student was stabbed on Aug. 26. | Photo by Benjamin Zawilski

Give Me More Than Vague Emails on Campus Crime

HSU notifications lack conviction or specific plans of action
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HSU notifications lack conviction or specific plans of action

If you’ve checked your email at all within the past couple of months, you’ve most likely read one of the several notices Humboldt State University sent to the campus in regards to incidents of vandalism, racist messages or off-campus crimes.

Just this semester, HSU notified students via email of numerous instances including racist graffiti on Dec. 7, racist vandalism in a residence hall restroom on Nov. 13, anti-Semitic flyers put up around the campus on Oct. 25 as well as on Sept. 17 with an email notification of a stabbing that happened off campus.

The emails for the first three incidents listed came a day or less after the occurrence and after the police department had found and cleaned up the perpetrators’ messes. However, the notice about the off-campus crime was sent out a month after the crime itself, which was the stabbing of a student on Aug. 26. HSU seemingly weighed in to clarify because, “recent media accounts and headlines about the incident were filled with many different narratives.”

Each message HSU sends follows a general formula.

One paragraph is what the University allots for all of these incidents of crime on or near campus. They follow it up with multiple paragraphs about how the University has no place for racism or violence, and provide the usual list of resources students can take advantage of if they need support.

But aside from erasing the evidence of the crimes and repeating where students can go ad nauseam, they have never taken any direct action to combat the trend that is clearly going on.

The messages claim that the University Police Department is investigating these issues, but they have not given any further information as to what they actually plan to do to prevent any further instances of hate speech or vandalism in the future.

Students have a right to get their education at a school that strives for active protection, not just passive written defense.

Benjamin Zawilski

El Leñador reported that “the NAACP penned a letter in April of 2018 condemning HSU’s administration for failing to take an active role in addressing racism and safety concerns in the City of Arcata and Humboldt County, thus endangering the lives to whom it extends acceptance letters.”

HSU students ought to be able to trust the administration of their school to communicate with them in these situations. But the administration’s lack of vigilance and initiative extends even to direct threats to the safety of students. Last April, they took almost a full 24 hours to send a message that a student had committed assault on campus.

The administration will not show any sign of actually protecting the safety of the students like they claim to until they take real steps to improve their transparency.

Students have a right to get their education at a school that strives for active protection, not just passive written defense. The first step might be for administration to disclose crimes that have happened before they have absolutely no choice but to do so.

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One Comment

  1. Paul Zawilski Paul Zawilski Saturday, December 14, 2019

    One of the failings of news media is follow-up. They are quite willing to report on events, crises, or catastrophes, but do not seem to have the capacity or willingness to write follow-up stories. Was the suspect ever caught, charged, tried, or convicted. Was the victim provided help, comfort, restitution? How are people doing once the catastrophe has abated? And so on. I, for one, would like to hear, as Paul Harvey used to say on radio, “the rrrrest of the story”.

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