Documenting Hate

“Hate crimes do happen in small towns like Bowling Green.”

That’s what Emani Boards, a joint enrollment student from Bowling Green, told me towards the end of an interview when feces were smeared and a racially charged note was posted on the door and windows of her apartment unit.

Her sentiments should ring true. Bowling Green and WKU are not immune to hate crimes and bias-related incidents, which is why the Herald is focusing more of our attention on these kinds of incidents.

We’re partnering with the investigative reporting non-profit ProPublica as part of their Documenting Hate project to document instances of hate crimes and bias-related incidents on WKU’s campus and in the Bowling Green community. 

The FBI defines a hate crime as a criminal offense “motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”

A bias incident is an offense motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s animosity toward the victim’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status.

Every time something like this occurs, it seems we’re surprised that hate could exist in this year, in our town or on our campus — but it does.

During the fall 2016 semester, a student had the n-word carved into her car, a professor had threatening notes containing racist language slid under her office door and there were several instances of hateful messages posted on or around campus and students receiving anonymous notes containing hate speech referring to race, religion and sexuality following the election of Donald Trump.

These are just some of the examples which come to mind, but they cannot begin to even account for the things we don’t know about or the crimes which go unreported altogether.

Please help us shine a light on crimes like these and help us tell your story. Your voice is so important, please don’t be afraid to share it. Hate like this only festers in the dark.

Information submitted through the Documenting Hate form will not be shared with the university, and victims can remain anonymous on published articles if they so choose. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy non-profit that tracks hate groups and extremism, recommends that victims and witnesses of hate crimes contact law enforcement first.

If you have experienced or witnessed any instances of hate or bias on campus, tell your story to the Herald using the form on our website, or contact herald.editor@wku.edu for additional information on the project. After submitting, a reporter may contact you for more details.

To report a crime to the WKU Police Department, call 270-745-2548. To contact the Bowling Green Police Department, call 270-393-4244. To report an incident of bias to WKU visit https://www.wku.edu/report/bias-form.php. To report in the event of an emergency, dial 911.