Local News

UNC system panel leaning toward hate-crimes policy

Posted February 26, 2009 5:58 p.m. EST

— A panel will likely recommend the University of North Carolina system adopt a policy for handling hate crimes on the system's 16 campuses, officials said Thursday.

The UNC Study Commission to Review Student Codes of Conduct as They Relate to Hate Crimes still needs to hammer out the specifics of a proposed policy, but members said they discouraged using the term "hate crimes" in any policy.

UNC President Erskine Bowles created the panel after four North Carolina State University students' spray-painted racist graffiti in the campus' Free Expression Tunnel the night President Barack Obama was elected.

The state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for the students to be expelled, but N.C. State officials said they had no grounds to do that.

The panel said a policy should prohibit conduct that federal and North Carolina laws characterize as hate crimes, as well as the infliction or threat of bodily harm and behavior that meets the legal definition of harassment leading to a hostile environment.

"Student codes should include language that defines the conduct that is illegal based upon specific statutes or laws, rather than a prohibition of 'hate crimes' per se," a memo to the panel said.

The group hasn't discussed the possibility of requiring all new students in the UNC system to undergo diversity training.

A final recommendation is due to Bowles by the end of March. The UNC Board of Governors would have to approve any new policy.