In the wake of high-profile hate crime allegations on campus, San Jose State University has enlisted a retired judge to conduct an independent review of what happened. LaDoris Cordell, San Jose’s independent police auditor, will oversee the investigation, which will look at how the university failed to prevent four white students from racially terrorizing a black freshman.
The investigation will seek to:
• Determine what happened, when it happened and who’s responsible;
• Find out how and when the school responded to the crime;
• Determine whether the school violated existing policies in the way it reacted to the incident.
Last month, the District Attorney’s office filed misdemeanor battery and hate crime charges against four white students, alleging they had clamped a bicycle lock around their black dorm-mate’s neck and barricaded him in a closet. Prosecutors say the suspects also scribbled the word “nigger” on the dorm suite white board and called the victim “Three-Fifths,” referring to the way the U.S. government once deemed slaves three-fifths a person.
The case sparked outrage, vaulting the story to national headlines. During a press conference about the incident late last month, students criticized the school for failing to protect the victim. They asked why college staff took so long to notice the abuse and why they officials didn’t follow up after directing the suspects to take down a Confederate flag they posted up on a dorm window.
SJSU suspended the four students immediately after the DA pressed charges. The NAACP called for prosecutors to bump up the charges to felonies and asked for a federal and state investigation, too.
Qayoumi said the school’s newly formed Commission on Diversity will meet this month to talk about how to prevent similar incidents going forward. And early next year, Qayoumi said, he will host a forum on racial intolerance.
In the meantime, Cordell and the law firm tasked with conducting the review will proceed with the audit. They’re expected to produce a report by Jan. 31. A task force will review those findings and issue a final report by the end of April.