Students are speaking up over the rise in anti-Black hate crimes 

in October 6th, 2021

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With a rise in anti-Black incidents on college campuses, more students are sharing dissatisfaction with administration response. Most recently, the University of Massachusetts Amherst launched an investigation after Black student organizations began receiving a slew of racist emails telling them they didn’t belong on campus, should consider sterilization, and other abusive messages.

While the university responded with a statement condemning the act, students remain unsatisfied with the mild response as hate crimes have yet to abate. Students have held protests, published an op-ed in the campus newspaper pleading the school to act, and gathered to share over 100 stories of harassment. College officials have now hired a cybersecurity firm to track the source of the email after campus police and technology staff failed to identify the sender (potentially meaning it didn’t come from a student).

Sadly, UMass Amherst is not a standalone case. Reports show that anti-Black crimes have been rising nationally since Trump’s election in 2016. In 2019 alone, there were nearly 2,000 hate crimes on college campuses alone.

  • At Albion College in Michigan in March, a Black student was driving near campus when someone spit on his car and yelled racist remarks. A semester prior, a Black freshman was stopped and frisked on campus by someone impersonating a cop.
  • At Rhodes College in Tennessee recently, two Black students found a banana taped on their dorm room door, an act of aggression referencing racist rhetoric comparing Black people to monkeys. Students complained the school took over 48 hours to even acknowledge the racist incident.

And administration inaction directly impacts the makeup of campuses. A study digging into data on 18 years of college hate crime found that such incidents discourage beneficial integration, showing an increased likelihood of Black students instead enrolling in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). That said, the tragic murder of George Floyd last year has pressured many colleges to directly address racial issues; an April survey showed 57% of students agree race is at least somewhat discussed more frequently on campuses.

In the case of UMass Amherst, the school is now increasing funding for its Center for Racial Justice and launching a Black Advisory council made up of students, faculty, staff, and administrators to develop recommendations for improving Black student experiences on campus.

🎬 Take Action

An overwhelming majority of on-campus mental health care comes from White, cisgender, heterosexual, and/or able-bodied care givers. Urge your institutions (whether as students or alumni) to diversify staff and improve the mental health resources available to its campus community.

Resource Center:

  • Boston Globe (Where we found this story) 8 days old | 16 minutes long
  • Newsweek Details of the disturbing emails 11 days old | 8 minutes long
  • CBS News UMass Amherst protests 13 days old | 2 minutes long
  • News One Banana taped to door 3 weeks old | 3 minutes long
  • Battle Creek Enquirer Hate crimes at Albion College  7 months old | 6 minutes long
  • American Progress 2019 data on hate crimes 3 years old | 14 minutes long
  • Inside Higher Ed Hate crimes influencing students to enroll in HBCUs 7 months old | 9 minutes long
  • Inside Higher Ed Rise in racial discourse following George Floyd murder 5 months old | 27 minutes long
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