Editorial: We saw hate on our campus last semester. Help us document it.

From May 2017 – May 2018, Erin Douglas was the primary editorial writer for The Rocky Mountain Collegian. Editorials represent a stance taken by The Collegian’s Editorial Board. Read more here.  

Last semester, we covered hate:

  • On Aug. 29, we reported that a fake noose was hung outside of a Black RA’s floor.
  • On Aug. 30, we reported that a former CSU student participated in the alt-right Charlottesville rally.
  • On Oct. 4, we reported that a wireless network, accessible on campus, was renamed “Fuck Jews.”
  • On Oct. 4, we reported that the words “Hail Hitler” were written on a Jewish student’s dorm room door.
  • On Oct. 12, we reported a public Snapchat of a student painted with a swastika in a residence hall.
  • On Oct. 29, we reported that a mannequin was found in an on-campus trashcan defaced with Nazi symbols.

This semester, we want to continue reporting hate on our campus, but we also want to document it in a meaningful way. And, we need your help to do it. If you choose to share your experiences with us this semester, you’ll help a national non-profit project gather better data on hate crimes and bias incidents in the U.S. for use by journalists and civil-rights organizations.

Why? America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. While the FBI is required to collect data about hate crimes, local jurisdictions aren’t required to report the incidents to the federal government. The FBI’s data is incomplete. There’s not a reliable database in the nation to understand how often or of what magnitude these incidents are occurring.

So, we’ve decided to partner with ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative newsroom, to track incidents of hate and bias. They’ve started a project called “Documenting Hate” with a coalition of organizations such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Google News Lab, The New York Times and several other organizations hoping to get better data on hate.

ProPublica’s goal is to assemble data from law enforcement, community groups, local jurisdictions, news reports, social media and nonprofit organizations. They’re using volunteers, including journalism students (that’s where we come in) to follow-up on the tips to authenticate the data.

The Collegian is joining 11 other campus newspapers in this project to help ProPublica authenticate the reports. Ultimately, the database will be available—with privacy and security restrictions—to civil-rights groups and journalists to contribute to a national understanding of hate crimes and bias incidents.

We are going to embed the ProPublica form on our website here and as well as at the bottom of any related news story about a hate crime or incident.

If you fill out the form, you share your story with the project Documenting Hate. They, in turn, will share that information with us so that we can try to write a story about it, therefore authenticating the news tip. You may remain anonymous in any news story we write if you believe you may be subject to retaliation or if your safety may be in jeopardy. ProPublica will not share your name and contact information with anybody outside their coalition of partners without your permission.

We—and ProPublica and the Documenting Hate Project—are not law enforcement and we’re not affiliated with CSU. We will not report your information to the police or to the university. The Southern Poverty Law Center recommends you do so directly if you are a victim of a crime.

Find resources for people who have been affected here.

We know that you’ve gone through something traumatic. Thank you for coming forward and telling us what happened. 

This editorial was originally published Jan. 16, 2018 in The Rocky Mountain Collegian. Read the original here.

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