A resolution passed unanimously by the Student Senate on the Sunday before Thanksgiving break addressed the potential local rise in “bias incidents” on campus. The resolution comes after the election of Donald Trump earlier this month and the nationwide rise of hate crimes and other attacks on minorities, women and other groups that have followed suit.
UNH Provost Nancy Targett, Assistant Vice President Jaime Nolan and others held a post-election talk on Nov. 18 to discuss the election and how to move forward as a community. At this discussion, many students of color raised concerns over hateful acts that had occurred in the succeeding days after the election.
One such incident happened to Samrawit Silva, a freshman African American student who was spat upon. Other such incidents have prompted Student Senator Douglas Marino and Elena Ryan of the UNH College Democrats to write a resolution denouncing the bias incidents and calling on the President’s Office to further address the problem.
The resolution calls on the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity to educate the UNH community about what to do when they witness a “bias incident.” A bias incident is an occurrence that threatens the well-being of students, either in a physical or emotional way, which targets a specific group based on their identity.
The resolution also calls for educating students on what they can do on the matter. Marino said that students could personally interfere if they see an incident happening or can help a student who was just the victim of an emotional or physical attack.
The Report It UNH website is for students who have been victims of such incidents and has been promoted by the university as a safe place to report incidents that they have experienced. Marino reported that while there are no hard numbers on how many incidents have occurred, he said that enough students had come forward that it was necessary to address the issue.
Nolan worked with the Student Senate to see how the administration and the student body could work together.
“What can [the administration] learn from students as the incidents are ongoing? It’s really important to listen to students. How can we make Report It more user-friendly and visible to students?… In the post-election, we did see an uptick in attacks, but since then, there hasn’t been,” Nolan said. “But we have to keep paying attention and make sure students can succeed here at UNH.”
The resolution also called on UNH President Mark Huddleston to make a statement on the recent bias incidents. Just a few days after the resolution passed through the student senate, Huddleston sent an email out to the student body displaying the university’s pronouncement that hate will not be tolerated.
“There has been an increase in hate incidents across the country, including at many higher education institutions and here at UNH. Several of our students, faculty and staff have experienced acts of hate in person (e.g., racial slurs, spitting, bullying), on social media, in rude, vulgar and vitriolic emails and voicemails,” Huddleston said in the email. “We condemn all such acts and reiterate that we are committed to a diverse, inclusive and safe campus environment. The attitudes and acts of a few cannot overtake our community if we stand together and say ‘not in our house.’”