By Shanleigh Reardon
A hate crime in Corinne Hall Towers was reported by a resident assistant around 11 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, said FSUPD Officer Martin Laughlin. This is the fourth hate crime reported this semester.
Three incidents in Larned Hall were reported earlier this semester. This was the first to be reported in Towers. All of the hate crimes have targeted black students, said Laughlin.
President F. Javier Cevallos alerted the community of the hate crime in a campus-wide email on Nov. 17. The email also included notes summarizing the Unity Meeting that was held on Nov. 13 to discuss issues with hate crimes and racism on campus.
“I know there is a lot of anger on our campus about what is going on. It’s important that our anger is matched by a resolve to emerge from this as a stronger and more inclusive community,” said Cevallos in the email.
The email also announced the University plans to implement mandatory anti-bias training for incoming students.
Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, emailed the community on Monday, Nov. 27 about an optional online course that was going to be made available the following day for individuals interested in learning about “diversity awareness.”
González said, “The intention was to provide an optional course on diversity and inclusion for students to view. We want to bolster the way our campus learns about diversity and inclusion – it could be by attending events, by participating in clubs, by learning about it on their own through this online course and/or by learning about these issues in their classes.”
González said she participated in a floor meeting with students following the most recent hate crime.
“The students were wonderful. They discussed how they needed to look after each other and offered ideas about enhanced security in the residence halls,” she said.
John Santoro, deputy chief of FSUPD, said due to recent events, FSUPD has installed four cameras in the stairwells on the third and fourth floors of Larned Hall and plans to install more inside and outside of residence halls.
According to Laughlin, at this time, the department is fully staffed and typically has four officers on duty and never fewer than three.
All FSUPD officers, as well as members of the faculty and staff, will be trained by professionals from the Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement Academy later this month on “racial intelligence,” said Cevallos.
The University is still offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who shares information leading to the identification of the perpetrator or perpetrators of these crimes. Santoro said the University has looked into all tips it has received since the reward was offered.
Laughlin said, “Every lead we get, we’re following it through as far as we possibly can, and we’re coming up with dead ends. ... We know someone out there knows something, and if someone wants to come forward – that’s fine. But we’re working with the FBI – we’re working with the handwriting analysis – but right now, we’re frustrated.”