Boise State Students Expect Administration to Address Campus Racism

Students have seen racial slurs, swastikas and even death threats against people of color written on their residence hall doors.
Published: May 8, 2019

After several incidents of on-campus racism at Boise State University, students are calling on the administration to make ending racism more of a priority.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Education reported 1,143 hate crimes based on 6,339 institutions with 11,210 campuses. At Boise State, students are concerned about the lack of concern from housing officials and the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

They have witnessed the “n-word” being written on dorm room doors across campus, along with swastika’s and death threats against non-white students, reports ABC 10 News.

“Students don’t feel comfortable living on campus anymore,” said Karla Magana, a Resident Assistant and student at Boise State.

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Carter Jones, another student, added that officials didn’t know what to do when they saw a swastika drawn on his door.

Students of all races have taken it upon themselves to speak up about what they are experiencing so racist incidents are no longer overlooked.

“They came to my floor and they wrote explicitly racist messages targeted towards people of color, specifically black people,” said Dele Ogunrinola.

Jones explained that when incidents like this happen, students are often told to forget about it and move on.

“Just like what happened in Towers; [students] were told to erase the board that had a racial slur. This is consistent behavior by housing,” he said.

Boise State’s protocol to deal with these issues includes calling campus security, reporting to university compliance and notifying leadership. They also file reports with law enforcement when necessary.

Students don’t feel protocol is followed through to fruition, however.

“My resident director found these [racist] notes and he called Boise Police Department and Boise Police Department told them it wasn’t a hate crime because, free speech,” Ogunriola said.

ABC 10 News verified with the Boise Police Department who confirmed Ogunrinola’s statement was correct. They said the keywords from an investigation that are needed to charge a person for a hate crime are, “specific intent.” According to BPD, Boise State Security led the campus investigation and did not include those two words when communicating with police.

Ultimately, students feel dissatisfied and frustrated with how racial discrimination is being handled on campus, by both the administration and police.

The Director of Housing at Boise State said he appreciates students speaking up about the work that needs to be done and that it is their top priority.

He added that the department is currently holding discussions with students and staff teams to come up with ways to support students more efficiently. He also plans to implement training for housing staff and develop a plan to deliver a better residential experience for students.

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