Are Racial Incidents on Campus on the Rise?

A recent headline in the Washington Post read, “Colleges See Flare in Racial Incidents.” The newspaper’s editors came to this conclusion because of four events that recently received press attention in the Washington area. These four events were the hanging of a noose at the University of Maryland, the publication of racist cartoons in the student newspaper at the University of Virginia, the kidnapping and writing of racial slurs on the body of a black student on the campus of Gallaudet University, and the demand by a high-ranking black congressman for an investigation of a racial incident at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Last week a noose was found hanging on the door of Madonna G. Constantine, a professor of psychology at Columbia Teachers College in New York City. Professor Constantine, a graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Memphis, is the coauthor of the book Addressing Racism: Facilitating Cultural Competence in Mental Health and Educational Settings. This noose incident appears to be one of several “copy cat” hate crimes that have occurred due to the vast media interest in the Jena-6 case.

But despite what seems to be a rash of racial incidents on campus, the fact is that racial incidents have long plagued the campuses of America’s colleges and universities. Data from JBHE’s sister publication, The Race Relations Reporter, shows that there have been more than 1,300 reported incidents of racial hate on campuses across the United States over the past 15 years. According to the statistics, the number of racial incidents on campus has held steady over the years.