Sunday, November 24, 2013
The New Jim Crow at San Jose State University
POSTED: 11/21/2013 02:33:39 PM PST
UPDATED: 11/21/2013 08:43:45 PM PST
SAN JOSE -- Anger and disbelief fueled a protest beneath San Jose State's towering Black Power statue Thursday and echoed across the nation, as the school announced it has suspended three white students charged with a hate crime over allegations they racially bullied their black roommate.
"No justice! No peace!" students shouted, protesting the treatment of a black student by his white roommates, three of whom could go to jail for year if convicted of the misdemeanor charges.
The roommates are accused of clamping a bicycle lock on the student's neck, taunting him with a racial epithet and slurs, and barricading him inside his bedroom in the suite they shared.
Facing mounting pressure to take action after this newspaper on Wednesday exposed the alleged hazing, university officials held an extraordinary news conference. They apologized for what happened but stopped short of saying what they could have done differently -- or what they will do in the future.
"It's stunning to me that it would be able to continue for a period of time without somebody saying, 'This isn't right,'" said William Nance, the school's vice president of academic affairs.
But Nance stopped short of blaming housing employees for failing to protect the student, despite reports that at least two residence assistants knew about a Confederate flag displayed in the room and asked the residents to take it down. He described the ordeal as "a learning experience" for the department.
"Were there other actions that could have been taken? Perhaps," he said.
Nance also spoke at the rally, announcing the three students' suspensions, which could lead to expulsions after a disciplinary hearing. Students at the rally demanded to know why San Jose State President Mo Qayoumi wasn't there to hear their concerns. He was out of state Thursday, but the school released a statement in which he said the allegations "outraged and saddened" him.
"They are utterly inconsistent with our long cherished history of tolerance, respect for diversity and personal civility," he said.
Prosecutors have charged the men with misdemeanor hate-crime and battery for the incidents. One of them -- Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield -- turned himself in Thursday. He declined to comment when reached by this newspaper. The others -- Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis; and Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre -- are expected to surrender this week and could not be reached.
In just the single day since the story broke, anger boiled over among students, professors, instructors and alums.