Legislators Hold Campus Climate Conference at San Jose State University for Alleged Hate Crime

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    NEWSLETTERS

    State legislators gathered at San Jose State University on Friday for what's being called a campus climate conference. Marianne Favro reports.

    State legislators gathered at San Jose State University on Friday for what's being called a campus climate conference.

    The conference was prompted after an alleged hate crime on campus last fall, when an African American student said he was tormented, bullied and assaulted for weeks by some of his roommates.

    The victim, Donald Williams Jr., claims his roommates also put a lock around his neck.

    Friday's hearing comes two days after Williams Jr. filed a $5 million claim against the university for the incident.

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    "To have to endure harassment from his roommates and feel he can't talk to someone about it and is asked to sign the agreement," said Nora Campos, speaker pro tem of the state Assembly.

    The agreement Campos is referring to is a signed document, in which the victim said he did not want his roommates to use what he called the "bike lock of shame."

    Some students said the university has done little to improve the campus climate since the bullying incident.

    "I haven't seen any changes," student Zhane Gay said. "There's been lots of talking about change, but we are still waiting for change to happen."

    Student Gary Daniels, who is a member of the Black Unity Group on campus, told legislators the university needs to take hate crimes more seriously.

    "If you use alcohol or drugs you are kicked out of the dorms," Daniels said. "But if it's a hate crime you just sign a roommate agreement and go about your day."

    San Jose State University President Mohammad Qayoumi agreed that change on campus is needed.

    "The abuse inflicted on that student by his suite mates was unacceptable," Qayoumi said. "Our students deserve better."

    Legislators will visit three other campuses and hold similar hearings. Officials said the goal is to improve campus climate at colleges throughout California.