After two months of discussion, a task force formed in the wake of hate crimes that allegedly victimized a San Jose State University freshman completed a set of recommendations. At its final meeting Thursday night, the committee warned school President Mo Qayoumi that the public will continue to keep him under a microscope.
“The victim, his parents and the world have been watching us, and they will be watching you,” said LaDoris Cordell, committee chair, retired judge and San Jose’s independent police auditor. “I am confident that you and your administration will do the right thing now that our work is done.”
The panel asked the university to improve training for residence hall staff to teach them how to deal with prejudice, form a diversity office to monitor campus climate and make diversity courses a requirement for all students. It also suggested placing a link on the school’s website homepage for people to report hate crimes. Read the entire list here.
“One thing I can give you is 100 percent assurance that each and every one of those recommendations will be closely looked at and seriously reviewed,” Qayoumi responded.
Cordell said that the victim and his family “were enthusiastically supportive” of the directives.
“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” Cordell said. “Now is the time to use this ugly incident of racial bullying to bring positive and long-lasting change to San Jose State University.”
In the case making its way through criminal court, prosecutors say four white students physically assaulted their African American roommate, locked him in a closet, scrawled racist epithets on a white board, hung up a Confederate flag and twice clamped a bike lock around his neck. Logan Beaschler, Colin Warren, Joseph Bomgardner and an unnamed minor are due in court next week for a pretrial hearing.
The school suspended the suspects in November, after the District Attorney’s Office pressed charges. The victim, 18-year-old engineering student Donald Williams Jr., filed a $5 million claim in March, claiming the school failed to pick up on signs of abuse.
Qayoumi’s predecessor ordered the report authored by SJSU sociologist Susan B. Murray in 2011. But no action was taken and Qayoumi dissolved the advisory panel attached to the study to form a diversity commission of his own. But one of the recommendations handed down this week would re-form that older panel, the Campus Climate Committee, and grant it more authority.
Qayoumi vowed to implement the proposed changes.
“The recommendations will not be easy fixes,” he said. “It requires a lot of careful consideration and I can promise you that a lot of these items will get very timely consideration.”