Student receives menacing phone calls, room vandalized in possible hate crime

By Steven Viera || Senior Editor

On Friday, Nov. 20, an African-American student at the College received two racially-motivated, threatening phone calls and later discovered his room had been ransacked. An investigation, conducted by F&M’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Lancaster City Bureau of Police (LCBP), is ongoing.

“These are serious offenses that may qualify as hate crimes under Pennsylvania criminal statutes, and violate our code of conduct,” said Margaret Hazlett, dean of the College, in an e-mail notifying the campus community of the
incident.

“One of the phone calls included a racial slur,” said Maria Flores-Mills, senior associate dean of the College. “The other was really an intimated threat.”

According to this article published on Lancaster Online, the student, who did not recognize the voices, deleted the messages from his phone. Additionally, nothing was reported to be taken from his room despite the fact that it had been broken into.

While there is not much evidence to go on according to Lancaster Online, DPS and LCBP are investigating the incident. If the responsible parties are identified, then they may face more severe prosecution and steeper penalties owing to the racially-inspired element of their crimes.

If they are F&M students, they face an investigation and possible sanctions from the College for violations to the Code of Conduct including conduct unbecoming of a student, unauthorized access, behavior which endangers the health and safety of others, and possibly other violations. Flores-Mills said that investigations would be conducted by DPS, College House Deans, herself, and other members of the administration and that the Committee on Student Conduct would hear and adjudicate the case. She also pointed out that sanctioning would depend on the outcome of the College’s judicial process as well as the students’ involvement in the incident, any previous violations they may have, and other factors.

For the students who are the victims of these type of incidents, the College offers resources to help and empower them. In addition to Counseling Services, Flores-Mills said the College can find the student new housing if he or she feels unsafe or, if he or she so chooses, to help the student feel safe in his or her room without the need to move. College House Deans can also help students by acting as an advocate.

“The College is committed to fostering a respectful and inclusive community where all are safe to participate in dialogue and discussion that make our college stronger,” Hazlett said in her e-mail. “We will take swift steps to ensure the safety of anyone making such a report, and will actively investigate such behavior.”

Anyone with information on the incident, or to report a separate incident, can call DPS at (717) 291-3939.

Senior Steven Viera is a senior editor. His email is sviera@fandm.edu.

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