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Bowles appoints panel to study hate-crimes policy

UNC President Erskine Bowles expects the 11-member commission to make its recommendations by March 31.

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles on Friday appointed an 11-member commission to examine whether the system needs a policy to address possible hate crimes on its 16 campuses.

The UNC Study Commission to Review Student Codes of Conduct as They Relate to Hate Crimes will be led by Harold L. Martin, UNC senior vice president for academic affairs and a former chancellor of Winston-Salem State University. The group includes students, staff and faculty from 10 UNC campuses.

The group will meet next Wednesday and will hold a public forum in late January or early February. Bowles wants the group's recommendations by March 31.

Four North Carolina State University students painted racist graffiti in the "Free Expression Tunnel" on campus the night that Barack Obama was elected president. Two of the messages said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head" and "Hang Obama by a noose."

Officials with the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for the students to be expelled, and they criticized what they termed a "tepid response" to the incident by N.C. State officials.

Wake County prosecutors said the graffiti didn't amount to a hate crime, the U.S. Secret Service said there was not an actual threat to Obama, and university officials said they had no grounds to expel the students.

One option the new commission will consider would be requiring all UNC students to take diversity training.

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