SJSU President Appoints Ex-Judge to Lead Panel to Probe Alleged Campus Hate Crimes - NBC Bay Area

SJSU President Appoints Ex-Judge to Lead Panel to Probe Alleged Campus Hate Crimes



    SJSU President Appoints Ex-Judge to Lead Panel to Probe Alleged Campus Hate Crimes
    Damian Trujillo
    A rally was held on the San Jose State campus Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.

    The president of San Jose State University on Thursday announced that a former judge would lead a task force to look into hate crimes by four white students against a black student that allegedly occurred on campus from August to October.

    Mohammad Qayoumi, in a letter emailed to students, faculty and staff, said he had appointed retired Santa Clara County Judge LaDoris Cordell to lead the task force to review the facts of the case and make recommendations on how to make SJSU "a safe, welcoming, tolerant community."

    Cordell is doing the work for free. "I'm doing the work because I care," she told NBC Bay Area.

    Qayoumi said that he also enlisted San Francisco attorney Myron Moye, a labor and employment lawyer for the firm Hanson Bridgett, to gather the facts in the case for a report to be presented to the task force.

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    The president further stated he decided to postpone a forum on racial intolerance, to have been held sometime in the first two weeks of December, to early 2014 so that students may prepare for their final exams.

    The task force was appointed amid allegations that the four white freshmen subjected their black freshman roommate to racial slurs, barricaded him inside his room and slightly injured him while attempting to place a U-shaped bike lock over his neck for a second time.

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    The students taunted the unidentified black student with the racial names "three-fifths" and "fraction," hung up a Confederate flag and placed photos of Adolf Hitler and Nazi symbols inside the eight-person student housing suite they shared between August and mid-October, prosecutors said.

    After the allegations surfaced last month, SJSU administrators ordered the four students suspended and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office filed misdemeanor battery charges with a hate crime enhancement against them.

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    The students are Logan Beaschler of Bakersfield, Joseph Bomgardner of Clovis and Colin Warren of Woodacre and a fourth student who has not been identified because he was a juvenile at the time of the incidents, prosecutors said.

    Cordell, who is black, was a Superior Court judge for 19 years and has been the city of San Jose's independent auditor of the San Jose Police Department since 2010.

    Qayoumi said that he appointed Cordell because she "has sought to give a voice to the unheard."

    Moye, who also is black, has, according to Qayoumi, "extensive experience in cases involving harassment, discrimination, ethics and regulatory compliance."

    Qayoumi said that fact-finding into the case would begin right away and seek to determine "what happened, when it happened, and who the alleged perpetrators are."

    The investigation would also try to find out when and how the SJSU campus knew about the incidents, or should have known, and how and when the college administration responded to them, Qayoumi said.

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    The probe would also try to see if the campus or its employees violated any university policies and to what extent the policies and procedures were followed, Qayoumi said.

    Moye has been asked to produce his report by Jan. 31, Qayoumi said.

    Other members of the task force would be appointed by Jan. 15. The panel would receive Moye's report in February and issue a final report to the public by April 30, Qayoumi said.

    The president also said that members of a Commission on Diversity for the campus appointed in August had met once this fall, would convene again this month and eventually consider the recommendations of the task force.

    NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.