Symbols at University of Georgia and Georgia College & State University fuel renewed calls for hate crimes law

Swastika symbols on two Georgia university campuses have students and parents on edge.

Swastikas were drawn on message boards recently in Creswell and Russell halls at the University of Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

This shouldnt be in your mind, concerns if you are going to be safe, said Brett Feldman, 21, a UGA senior who met with the universitys dean of students to discuss student concerns.

Two students at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville also reported to campus officials that a swastika was drawn on the doors of their residence hall recently.

Administrators at both schools asked students to share any information with campus authorities that may help the investigation. Theyre also offering counseling services.

The presidents of both schools also wrote messages to students, but some are critical of the response.

Dov Wilker, regional director of the American Jewish Committee Atlanta, was glad the UGA president, Jere Morehead, described the incidents as displays of hate but believed he should have also called them antisemitic.

Federal officials in October found that religious-based hate crime on college campuses has increased significantly nationwide over the past decade.

Georgia is one of a handful of states that does not have a hate crimes law. Some say the recent crimes show that one is needed.

I feel like its a deterrent that would prevent a student from acting that way, said Feldman, who is president of the Georgia Israel Public Affairs Committee, a student group.

The Georgia house of representatives passed a bill earlier this year that would have created stiffer penalties for people who commit crimes based on hate. However, the bill stalled in the senate after some lawmakers questioned its effectiveness.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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