Racist, anti-gay acts on campus
Racist and anti-gay messages were left around campus at Elizabethtown College in February and March, but they could have turned up on just about any college campus in the U.S.
Whether openly -- as was the case in E-town, where taunts and slurs were written on message boards that hang on dormitory room doors -- or under the radar, such shameful incidents occur more frequently than most people would like to admit.
Oberlin College in Ohio, for example, recently endured a monthlong string of hate-related incidents and vandalism. The liberal arts college has not yet determined whether the person(s) behind the incidents was a student or from off-campus.
At E-town, a number of students were disciplined -- the college isn't saying how many or giving their names -- for their roles in more than a dozen incidents over a two-month period.
Measures taken included suspension, disciplinary probation and/or residence relocation. Also, a non-student, also not named, was barred from campus.
The measures don't involve criminal charges, however.
College officials say the FBI told them the incidents, which also included students making overt racist remarks and anti-gay slurs as they strolled campus grounds, did not rise to the level of a federal hate crime.
The incidents prompted the college to increase security at certain residence halls and to revise its harassment intimidation policy to better define bias-related incidents and hate crimes.
In addition, the college hosted "listening sessions" with students, and "Stop the Hate" events were held on campus in recent weeks.
Also, College president Carl Strikwerda sought input last week from the Lancaster branch of the NAACP.
"We are making everyone on campus aware of the fact that these types of incidents will not be tolerated at Elizabethtown College," says Amy Mountain, E-town director of communications.
Such attempts at eliminating bias and embracing diversity on campus are aimed at students, but there's a take-away from this for college administrators, and that is they must be forever vigilant.
Sad to say, such attempts are still necessary today -- 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
And did we say we have an African-American president?
We've come a long way, but clearly incidents such as this suggest we have a long way to go.