Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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University of Oregon Hides Antisemitic Incidents From Annual School Hate Crimes Report

The complaint, filed late last month by an anonymous student and employee of the UO who shared the report with The Register-Guard, alleges that at least 30 documented incidents of hate and bias, mostly anti-Semitic in nature, were not recorded in the campus’s Clery Act report. Those incidents included a man arrested on campus with a knife. The man also had fliers with white supremacists messaging in his possession that he was distributing.

The Clery Report for the University of Oregon records just one hate crime in each year of 2017 and 2018 — both of which relate to sexual orientation. 

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a federal law requiring U.S. colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses, enforced by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding or financial aid to publish an annual security report, disclose crime statistics for incidents that occur on and adjacent to campus, issue timely warnings about Clery Act crimes that pose a serious or ongoing threat to students and employees, and devise an emergency response, notification and testing policy.

It mandates the recording and reporting of criminal offenses (homicide, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson), hate crimes (any required criminal offenses, and any incidents of larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation and destruction, damage or vandalism of property if motivated by bias), Violence Against Women Act offenses (domestic violence, dating violence and stalking) and arrests (weapons law, drug abuse or liquor law violations).

University of Oregon Director of Public Affairs and Issues Management Kay Jarvis said the incidents in question in the complaint do not fall under the list of reportable hate crimes in the Clery Act.

Alberto Betancourt, a press officer for the U.S. Department of Education, said the department does not comment on ongoing investigations.

“Campus safety is a top priority for the University of Oregon,” Jarvis said. “We take our Clery Act compliance obligations very seriously, and closely follow regulations and guidance from the Department of Education on what crimes to include in the campus crime statistics.

“While UO does not condone the distribution of white supremacist posters, this conduct does not meet the definition of a Clery Act hate crime and thus would not be included in the annual crime statistics disclosure,” Jarvis said.

The Register-Guard requested an interview with the UO police chief multiple times since Oct. 3 to discuss reporting of hate instances on campus, but that interview was not granted.

In response to requests to discuss with the university leaders if and how the university tracks hate instances, Jarvis sent a statement from the UO late Tuesday afternoon saying students, faculty and staff are encouraged to file reports of hate incidents through a web site, respect.uoregon.edu/report-incident, or to call the 24-hour hate and bias reporting line with the University of Oregon Police Department at 541-346-5555.

The statement did not address where these reports are kept or how they are used.

The statement also said posters, signs and fliers posted in public places are not removed based on content or viewpoint.

“However, the university removes all materials where postings are not allowed and, if there is a particularly offensive posting, campus groups work with UOPD to document the incident and support the residents impacted by the posting,” the statement said. UOPD keeps campus leadership informed if there are concerning trends or an increase in certain types of postings, Jarvis said.

The Clery Report issued by the UO containing the 2017 crime statistics states just one hate crime occurred in 2017, an on-campus assault characterized by sexual orientation. However, the anonymous complainant provided a police report in their complaint that showed a July 2017 incident involving a man who was arrested on campus late at night with three other men, including a locally known white supremacist. 

The men were in possession of a ladder, a stapler and white supremacist posters. The man, who was wearing a mask and was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon, according to a police report of the incident, was never charged. That event was not represented on the UO Clery Report.

The man arrested, Andrew Oswalt, would later go on to be charged and sentenced for hate crime incidents related to him placing stickers with racial slurs on cars belonging to the activist group Showing Up for Racial Justice in 2017. Oswalt was an Oregon State University doctoral student in chemistry, according to a report in The Gazette-Times. He was sentenced to 40 days in jail.

While that sentence was not related to the UO, the complainant wrote that not recording the 2017 incident in the Clery Report was negligent in light of Oswalt’s conviction.

The complaint states other instances involving white supremacist propaganda being removed from campus by a local activist group and were reported to the UO police chief, totaling an alleged 30 hate vandalism incidents. None of that propaganda is documented in the UO’s Clery Report.

Anyone can file a Clery complaint, a document that details the ways in which someone believes their college has violated the Clery Act. Complaints can be made over the phone, by mail or in email. The complaint process can take months, maybe years, according to the nonprofit organization End Rape On Campus. There is no timeline on investigating claims. A university can be fined $35,000 per violation.

According to documents provided by Betancourt, the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid office conducts reviews to evaluate an institution’s compliance with the Clery Act requirements. A review may be initiated when a complaint is received, a media event raises certain concerns, the school’s independent audit identifies serious non-compliance, or through a review selection process that may also coincide with state reviews performed by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service Audit Unit. 

Once a review is completed, the department issues a Program Review Report that describes non-compliance concerns to the institution and provides the institution the opportunity to respond. After careful review of all the information received on the findings, the Department will issue its Final Program Review Determination letter. Based on the findings, the Department then makes a decision on whether a fine is appropriate, and if so, the amount of that fine.

City’s voluntary reporting

While the newly released Clery Report documents just one hate crime occurring in 2018 on campus related to sexual orientation, it fails to include the number of 2018 crimes on campus documented in the city of Eugene’s Hate and Bias Crimes report, when a rash of graffiti was reported at the end of April, including swastikas, “white pride” and other anti-Jewish symbols.

One of the targets was the UO’s Hillel House, a Jewish student organization. A welcome sign in Hebrew in the house’s parking lot was defaced with expletives and statements related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“In my attempts to get a current report of hate vandalism on campus,” the complaint states, “I asked multiple departments on campus and was repeatedly told that there was no way to count them because no campus body differentiated between hate vandalism and other vandalism — it was all just reported as vandalism, and campus custodial staff were directed just to take it down.”

Eugene’s Hate and Bias Crimes information is collected and compiled by the city of Eugene’s Office of Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement, and the data is used by the federal government for the FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics report. The FBI’s report is based on numbers submitted on a voluntary basis, meaning not every agency in the state participated, and the report relies on how each participating city gathers hate crime information, which can vary. In the FBI’s 2017 reported released in November 2018, Eugene had 72 reported hate crimes, making up nearly half of the statewide total — Oregon reported 146 hate crimes in 2017.

Some hate instances that occurred on UO’s campus will appear in Eugene’s report, but while the university encourages the filing of reports of hate incidents, it appears there is no public reporting of information UO collected.

“I do believe that the unique partnership the Eugene Police Department has with our office lends to higher reporting on hate crimes in our community,” Katie Babits, the office’s human rights and equity analyst, said when the report was released in 2018. “The FBI states that only 25% to 42% of hate crimes are reported, and I believe that we are able to capture a larger percentage than that because of our system, education and outreach.”

Eugene police said at the time that significant outreach to raise community awareness and educate residents in how to report hate crimes along with the agency’s proactive efforts may be part of the reason the city’s hate crime numbers are higher than other Oregon cities.

For example, the department altered its strategy in recording hate-related vandalism reports in 2017, which included officers self-generating reports of graffiti they witnessed rather then relying on resident complaints.

“In previous years, reports for vandalism and graffiti were only recorded when they were reported to authorities by the public,” said Eugene Police Department spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin in 2018. “This change in procedure may be helping us to capture a more accurate picture of hate crime in our community.”

Source: https://www.registerguard.com/news/20191023/uo-student-employee-accuses-school-of-not-recording-hate-crimes-in-federal-report