Discrimination on UW campuses on the rise

Biased hate incidents on UW-Platteville’s campus are a rapidly growing concern

On Nov. 7, the office of Chancellor Dennis Shields sent out an email notifying students that since that date, there have been 10 reported bias based incident that occurred on campus. According to the email, these incidents ranged from graffiti to harassment, either verbally or via social media. All on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or disability status.

The most notable incident that happened recently in the UW system has been the death of international student from Saudi Arabia, Hussain Saeed Alnahdi. He died after being assaulted in downtown Menomonie on Oct. 31.

“I believe that the university is a reflection of our nation as a whole and that nationwide there has been an increase in bias based incidents. I think the election season has been quite polarizing and has also contributed to the environment,” director of residence life Linda Mulroy-Bowden said in an email interview.

Biased based incidents have been on a rise throughout the country since the recent elections. Anti-Muslim hate crimes have grown a whopping 67 percent, 57 percent increase on race or minority based incidents and 20 percent increase on religion based incidents since last year. These are higher percentages than the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“I am aware that some of our students are dealing with anxiety about their safety and fear of being targeted because of their gender, ability status/race/nationality/religion/sexual orientation. Campus police have been and are continuing to provide a strong presence across campus; they will be vigilant over the next few weeks and provide increased patrols around campus. They also are making their lounge area available for anybody who needs a safe place,” stated in another email sent by the office of Chancellor Shields. “If you see a student whose well-being you are concerned with, please assist them in connecting with Counseling Services in Royce Hall at 608-342-1891. If you have concerns about students’ behavior and are not sure what to do, please email [email protected]; your concern will be routed to the Behavior Response and Review Team lead in the Dean of Students Office. You can find additional resources to support students at uwplatt.edu/counseling-services.”

Mulroy-Bowden also suggests to report these incidents to the University Bias Incident Team. Once reported to UBIT, they notify the appropriate responding authority.

“I think that we need to be focused on the value of  being a community of differences and facilitation of civil discourse. Everyone has a right to feel welcome and safe on our campus. People don’t have to agree, but conversations need to be had so students can achieve their academic and personal goals. In addition, bystander intervention is key. As a community, we all need to remember that if we see something, we say something. People have a right to free speech but that doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to say or that it contributes to the greater good of an academic community.  We need to be holding each other to higher standards of discourse,” Mulroy-Bowden said. “Students can report a concern to anyone in the campus community but Residence Life, [office of multicultural student affairs], Doyle Center, Dean of Students and University Police have been a great place to start.”