Cal State leaders aim to decrease campus tension and hate incidents

Cal State University officials are taking steps to reduce tension and hate incidents on campuses in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East. They are offering resources and engaging with more students in an effort to ease the mood.

“The CSU condemns in the strongest terms terrorism, including the horrific acts committed by Hamas on Oct. 7,” said Cal State Chancellor Mildred Garcia during a trustees meeting on Tuesday.

“They are hatred and senseless acts of violence, and they are antithetical to our core values. The loss of innocent life in Israel and the Gaza Strip is heartbreaking, and our deepest and most heartened sympathies are with all of those affected by this horrific tragedy.”

On Wednesday, the chancellor’s office presented a report to the CSU board of trustees that highlighted hate crimes and incidents from the previous year. The report outlined the efforts being made by campuses and the chancellor’s office to address conflicts and incidents related to the Middle Eastern conflict.

The number of hate incidents reported within the Cal State system is relatively low, considering the large student and faculty population across the 23 campuses. However, there has been a slight increase in incidents from 2021 to 2022. As of December 31, 2022, there were 13 hate crimes and six acts of violence related to hate committed across the CSU system. This represents an increase of six incidents compared to the previous year.

Melinda Latas, a CSU director responsible for campus safety compliance and disclosure, explained that hate violence includes incidents such as property destruction and verbal threats of force or physical violence that do not meet the definition of a hate crime under California law.

Physical assaults were the most common type of hate incident, followed by intimidation and threats of physical harm. The bias in these incidents was most commonly based on sexual orientation, followed by race and ethnicity.

The slight increase in hate incidents from 2021 is likely due to fewer on-campus incidents reported during the pandemic. However, for 2023, most campuses have not seen an increase in hate incidents so far.

CSU campuses aim to be an example and leader in handling tensions over religious, racial, and political topics. The chancellor’s office has offered support to Jewish students and Hillel houses, as well as Palestinian and Muslim student groups. Counseling services are available, and campuses are encouraging people to report bias incidents or discrimination.

On the San Jose State campus, only two incidents of hate crimes have been reported since January 1. The campus also hosted two peaceful protests and rallies following the Hamas attack on Israel in October.

Precautionary measures were taken to prevent hate-based disruptive activity, including working with local law enforcement and activating public safety threat plans.

Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reports that violence targeting people of different religions has been increasing nationally. A 2023 report from the center found that hate crimes targeting Jewish people increased by 27% in major American cities in 2022, with 470 religious hate crimes targeting Jewish people and 50 targeting Muslims.

Antisemitism has grown nationally in recent years due to conspiracism, religious nationalism, and anti-government sentiment. Hate crimes against Black Americans also remain frequent.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans have also increased since the start of the pandemic.

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