Starting way back in January, graffiti began popping up in the B building and the library about homophobia, Islamophobia and transphobia. An unholy trinity. Now, three months later, it seems that the administration has finally taken note. In a recent email that was sent out to staff only, President David Rule spoke about Bellevue College’s dedication to providing a “safe and welcoming place” for students, as well as detailing the administration’s intended actions to address these problems.
Amongst these actions were things like “diversity workshops” and “crowd-source monitoring.” These actions to dissipate racism and hatred in the school community has invoked resounding disbelief amongst the LGBTQ and Muslim student communities.
People were unimpressed to say the least and rightly so. The response to these ugly writings has been abysmal on the part of Bellevue College’s administration. It took three months for them to respond to these hate messages. Three months of steady escalation from “F— f——” scrawled on a bathroom wall to “Kill them all” written on a library table. That was the gist of this most recent graffiti according to one of the librarians. The rest was targeting the LGBTQ and Muslim communities on campus. It has taken a mass death threat leveled at us for the administration to respond.
The email from Rule detailed two things they have done and three actions they are taking moving forward. Public Safety’s presence in the library and the B building where these messages were written has been increased, and they have compiled a list of these “incidences.” A series of diversity workshops will be hosted. The title IX coordinator and Public Safety will continue to monitor these incidences, and the IT department will establish a “crowd-source monitoring system” so students can report what they see.
Where is the police investigation? I had to go track down a member of Public Safety’s Emergency Management Department to find out if this had even been reported to the Bellevue Police Department. Thankfully, it had been.
What about student notification? A hate crime has been committed on campus and the college administration has not told the student body. That is amongst the biggest failings here. We, the students, have been left to find out about what is happening on our own.
The only reason I know about all of this is that the head of the Arabic Culture Student Association came into the LGBTQ Resource Center on campus and told us about it.
The reason I know about the email is because a fellow student told me about it. The reason I know that this incident was reported to the Bellevue PD or that it is officially considered a hate crime is because I went out and found somebody in Campus Operations who knew about it.
We feel abandoned by the administration and unsafe on campus. The email from Rule said that they want to ensure a safe and accepting environment for the students to learn at Bellevue College. Well, if anything, this lackluster response has made things worse.
There are so many ways that Bellevue College can improve their response. First and foremost, above all others, communication. Send a general email, put up flyers, make an announcement in the cafeteria, do something to inform the general student body. Lay out the facts of what is going on so people don’t have to find out from the grapevine.
This is a college and we are adults. We can handle being told the truth of what is happening. Put in the emergency phones Campus Operations have been working on. Have more dangerous intruder trainings. Bring in some officers to talk to and reassure the students. Any one of these could help people feel safer on campus.
The email on Tuesday ended with the phrase “If you see something, say something.” Well, here is what I see and this is what I say. I see Muslim students afraid to come to school. I see people having sobbing breakdowns in the LGBTQ center. I see a lackluster response by administration. We don’t have the luxury to relax At this point, from our perspective, it is more than mere speculation that this sad, sick person may decide that writing ugly things is not enough and assault or kill someone.