Do colleges have a responsibility to report the outcomes of “hate crime” investigations?

Here’s a hypothetical situation which may not be so hypothetical, but more on that later.  I’m asking for reader input here.

The scenario: a college or university has several reports of “hate crimes”, which take the form of bigoted or threatening writings on walls (or posters), insulting or threatening Hispanics, blacks, and other minorities. The college or university, as it should, takes these incidents seriously and investigates them. In the meantime, these incidents are all assumed to be real by the student body and by the minorities in question, and create intense resentment against the college for fostering a climate of “violence” and hatred.

In one case, a student admits to writing the graffiti, but he/she is a member of the minority group that it attacked. The student goes public and apologizes.

In the other cases, university investigation proceeds but no outcomes are ever announced. It is likely that, given their nature, most or all of these incidents were actually perpetrated by minority-group students, probably to confect an atmosphere of bigotry where none exists, allowing the students to claim that they are victims of violence and hatred.

Suppose that it’s also likely that university investigation demonstrates that these “hate incidents” were hoaxes, but the university doesn’t announce that finding, or any finding. All is silence. Thus the climate of divisiveness continues, with minority students using these incidents as evidence that they are continually endangered, hated, and victims of violence.

My question: is it the university’s responsibility to announce the outcome of “hate crime” investigations: whether they are real hate crimes, hoaxes, or that no conclusion can be reached?

My own take: Yes, the university must announce the outcomes, for it makes a difference to student morale and well-being if hate crimes are real or are hoaxes. The name of students don’t have to be revealed if the college keeps these things private, but it seems absolutely incumbent, to me at least, that if a hate crime is found to be real, it be announced as real, and if it’s found to be a hoax, it should be announced to be a hoax. Otherwise, the university, in a misguided attempt to keep the evidence of hoaxes quiet, is complicit in creating an atmosphere of hatred and divisiveness on the campus.

What say you?



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink


    release results of investigation- protecting identities if possible.

    and appeals… oof… could get complicated…

  2. Posted March 5, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Yes, they should announce results. Although announcing them will create more anger, and be used by bigots in the majority group as evidence that problems of bigotry are overblown. Sigh.

  3. Posted March 5, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    yes. if investigations happen in the forrest but are never revealed, does anybody know the outcome?

  4. randallschenck
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I would say certainly the results of such investigation should be made public. At a much different level it is no different than the Mueller investigation. Regardless of outcome it should be made as public as possible. This is part of living in a free society. I would suggest more cameras if this sort of thing is becoming a problem.

  5. Patrick
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Not so hypothetical….this happened at my alma mater. The results of the investigation were reported because it happened off campus, so local law enforcement was involved. Predictably, there was a backlash and certain occupants of a certain position on the political spectrum continue to use it as a point of reference. Even so, the results of any investigation, on or off campus, must be aired in public. Per Justice Brandeis “Sunlight is said the be the best of disinfectants…”.

  6. Laurance
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Yes. The findings should be made public.

  7. S. Pimpernel
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I agree with making public. If the investigation does not find out if fake or not, that should be made public also.

  8. Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    If the university reports the incident it should report the outcome.

    In the above example, I think finding the perp was a member of the minority group in question would just be interpreted as a cry for help from the perpetrator against rampant bigotry on campus and an administration that ignored or even fostered the bigotry.

    Questioning this scenario is what Tucker Carlson would do.

  9. Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    If it were a high school they should. If it were at a business they should. So it should be no different in a college.

    In all three cases I disagree with schools or employees expelling or firing employees for hate crime. It is all of our responsibilities to try and re-establish good working conditions between members of our society, not ostracize them or shun them because they do something hateful. Pushing them away will likely make their hatred greater, not less.

    • Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      If it were real, they should be terminated. I don’t see a reason to protect the one bigot. Priority should be given to the well being and support of the far more numerous targets, and the University should be seen as doing that.
      As part of their termination there will be a severance procedure (last months’ salary or something), conditional on their completing counseling sessions about race and racism.

      • Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Counseling should be a must for offenders. And second offenses should be dealt with promptly.

        What I’ve heard about high school students is that the majority can come to the aid of the victim. Kids can make other kids stronger and better. The victims need to be strengthened and the persecutor rehabilitated.

      • Jeff Chamberlain
        Posted March 6, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        What do we know about the efficacy of counseling?

  10. Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I agree with… everybody else. There should be a thorough and impartial investigation, and the results should be made public. If a crime has been committed, the perpetrator should be called to account. Keep in mind, even if it was a hoax, it was still a hate crime. The targeted minority group were still terrorized, even if by a member of their own group.

    • rustybrown
      Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      “Keep in mind, even if it was a hoax, it was still a hate crime. The targeted minority group were still terrorized, even if by a member of their own group.”

      Not exactly. In the case of a revealed hate hoax, the group that’s being maligned is the group the hoaxer was intending to malign.

      So for example, in the case of a false KKK hoax on a black dorm that turns out to be committed by a black person, it becomes a type of hate crime against white people.

      • Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        The interesting issue here is should be hate hoaxer(s) be punished? I think they should be. I am not one to call what that should be, but it should be enough to serve as a deterrent since it created bad feelings, tension, and the investigation used resources.
        I somehow don’t ‘feel’ it to be a hate crime against white people, even though it is, technically. A lot of the negative impact of hate crimes is whether the target is feeling oppressed. As a cis white semi-affluent male, I can say I don’t feel oppressed in the least even by all the cis white male haters out there.

        • rustybrown
          Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you that hate hoaxers should face some repercussions. I guess the severity of the punishment should be variable to the crime. I think perpetrators of rape hoaxes for instance should face a sentence similar to the one they were hoping to impose on an innocent party.

          I don’t share your view that a hate crime is more severe if the target feels oppressed. In 2019 America, oppression is most often in the eye of the beholder. True justice requires we apply our laws equally, not divine which group feels more oppressed.

        • Max Blancke
          Posted March 5, 2019 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

          I do not know your background, but maybe you do not realize how poisonous the atmosphere in some of the US universities is.
          Many of the Black kids really believe that their schools are just simmering with oppression, even that some of the White kids hold secret Klan meetings, and roam the campus at night looking for people to lynch.
          I am all for people believing whatever they want to, but the problem is that those kids act in a way which would be perfectly reasonable, even imperative, if their beliefs were true. But of course modern US universities are probably the safest and most welcoming places on earth for Black kids.
          I have two kids at University now. My oldest has been attending one of the schools that has been in the news for BLM protests. He, and his peers, are terrified of the BLM kids. His study group classmates are med students, mostly Asian, and just want to quietly do their work. In the library or even in the dining facilities, the BLM kids often show up and scream at them. They sometimes block the sidewalks, making the regular kids go the long way lest they have obscenities and threats screamed at them.
          My main responsibility in life is to protect my kids. But he has asked me to not intervene, because the attention would result in him becoming even more of a target. So I have tried to take my frustrations out by working through the alumni to see that the money stream dries up.

          But the point is that the fake incidents feed this atmosphere, and really do affect kids like mine in a negative way.

          My view is that these incidents should be treated just as harshly as any other hate crime. Punish the deed, no matter who the perpetrator is.

      • Posted March 5, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        A fake hate crime has two groups of victims: the group that thinks they are being targeted and the group being blamed for it.

        • rustybrown
          Posted March 5, 2019 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          Frankly, I can’t see how the group originally targeted in a hate crime hoax are victims of the incident at all once the hoax is revealed, unless you’re talking about the embarrassment of having a member of your group acting in such an irresponsible and racist way.

          • Posted March 6, 2019 at 4:48 am | Permalink

            You can’t take back the hurt and damage already done by revealing the false flag operation.

      • Posted March 6, 2019 at 4:47 am | Permalink

        So one day, some slogans appear exhorting people to rise up and kill all the gay people on campus. The slogans are purportedly written by some right wing group.

        The gay people seeing this would think they are being targeted by the right wing group and perhaps be fearful as a result. They may also change their behaviour to mitigate the perceived threat e.g. missing lectures because they are afraid of going on campus.

        At the same time, the right wing group will be targeted for censure and worse.

        A couple of weeks later, the University announces the result of its investigation and finds it was a false flag operation by a single gay student. That does not mean that the fear experienced by the gay community over the previous two weeks magically never happened or that the missed lecturers were retrospectively attended. The consequences for the gay community were exactly the same as of the slogans were written by the right wing group.

        So the impacts of the actions of the gay student are:

        – to cause fear in the gay community exactly as if the right wing group had done it

        – to cause a backlash against the right wing group exactly as if the right wing group had done it

        I submit that this is at least as bad a crime as if somebody from the right wing group had done it because

        – the backlash would have been undeserved

        – the gay student would have known exactly what he was about to put the other gay students through.

        If the right wing student would have been expelled, so should be the gay student.

  11. Julian Cattaneo
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    It makes no sense to hide the results of the investigation

    • Posted March 6, 2019 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      Unless you are actively trying to make everybody believe that the situation with respect to hate crimes is worse than it really is.

  12. Charlie Jones
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    The results should be made public. If they were kept secret, the minorities targeted by the hateful material would continue to live with the anxiety of not knowing who the unseen bigots are, nor how many there are, nor what their true intensions (violent or otherwise) are.

    If the results are released, these fears can dissipate. They will be replaced, of course, with consternation that yet another hoax will be used to downplay real racism by the Tucker Carsons of the world. One hopes that repeated bad publicity and shaming over hoaxes will discourage further hoaxes, and this would certainly be a good outcome.

  13. Carl Morano
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    If an institution publicly announces a charge of a hate crime, yes, it should announce the outcome. There should be no such thing as a ‘hate’ or ‘thought’ crime. All crimes, even ones happily conducted while whistling, reflect a ‘hatred’ or indifference toward the protected rights of other individuals.

  14. Devinicus
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Since a majority of “hate crimes” on college campuses are anonymous graffiti, most outcomes will be classified as neither “hate” nor “hoax” but instead “undetermined”.

    That being said, releasing all the evidence would still have a salutary effect in the “undetermined” cases. The public could make up its own mind without the college having the power to interpret.

  15. rustybrown
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    They should be made public. All outcomes should be reported, the real as well as the hoaxes.

  16. DrBrydon
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Yes, they should be public. First, it is part of institutional oversight to make sure that things are being done on the up and up. Second, it is important for students to know that actions are punished.

  17. JAH43
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The university should do whatever it determines in good faith, in light of all of the facts and circumstances, would be in the best interest of the university and its beneficiaries (students and alumni), with preference to the beneficiaries.

    • rickflick
      Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      You suggest that there are circumstances in which the results of the inquiry should be suppressed. Do you have a specific situation in mind?

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Report it all, though the heavens may fall.

    “It is likely that, given their nature, most or all of these incidents were actually perpetrated by minority-group students …”

    Is there some evidentiary basis for this assertion?

  19. Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Agree to your points. It seems a no-brainer, as they say.

  20. TJR
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Can anyone think of a sane justification for not reporting the results??

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 6, 2019 at 3:30 am | Permalink

      The perpetrator was in a mentally disturbed state at the time?

      (Or maybe that’s just a reason for reporting the result but suppressing the name).


  21. Frank Bath
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    It’s a case of justice must nor only be done but seen to be done.

  22. Mark R.
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    …it seems absolutely incumbent, to me at least, that if a hate crime is found to be real, it be announced as real, and if it’s found to be a hoax, it should be announced to be a hoax.

    I agree.

  23. Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    First, they shouldn’t really be hate crimes but defacement of property. This might even discourage future incidents by not glorifying either the perpetrator or the “victims”.

    I would be ok with public listing of the outcome of all investigations but such a policy should apply to all crimes, not just defacement of property, though with some rules to protect privacy. If an incident was referred to local police, for example, that’s probably all it should say.

    The reporting of the results should not be pushed to the community. Posting it on some web page without announcement would seem reasonable. The college or uni should not be involved in any kind of shaming. Those that really have a need to know the outcome should have to make an explicit effort to learn the results.

    I agree with the comment on hoaxes. They should be take very seriously indeed.

  24. Michael Sternberg
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Yes, absolutely. It should not even be a question whether to publish the results of such an investigation.

    Sweeping an inconvenient outcome under the rug because it does not fit an expected narrative is disingenous and ultimately detrimental to the goal of minority integration. The truth will come out sooner or later, and when it does, it will play into the hands of supremacists even more than it would after an honest disclosure.

  25. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    To me this really is a ‘no brainer’: of course it should be made public, whether a minority group fishing for sympathy or a real hate group is involved is of no import here. Transparency and all that (like: the truth shall set you free).
    I cannot fathom the rationale behind University management to cover up. Apart from it being totally unconscionable, sooner or later it probably will come out anyway and then there will be copious amounts of egg on their faces.
    And if it is a minority group posting hate speech against itself, should we not find out why they deemed it necessary to do that? Could not a real dialogue ensue?

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Sorry Mark, I see you already used the ‘no brainer’. It really is, it was the first thing I thought of, but you beat me to it.

  26. Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The University has a legal obligation to publish crime statistics, which should include false reports of crimes. Either way, if it is a public University, it’s investigations are subject to public records requests. I assume that police investigations even at private Universities would be similarly subject to a state’s public records law, but I’m not sure.

    • Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Well, I’ll take you at your word, but this hypothetical may apply to a private university. And what if the crimes are reported to the FBI?

      • Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Any University that receives public funding is obligated to publish reliable crime statistics (Clery Act).

  27. Posted March 5, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Amen! Investigate thoroughly (with the help of whatever police are available), and expose the results all over the campus (and in the local news media too, if possible). In fact, encourage grad students to do research on “Local Hate Crimes: True or False, and Why”.

  28. mamerica1
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    In large part, the rationale for punishing hate crimes differently from similar, but not hateful, crimes is that hate crimes target the entire community (or a portion of it), rather than an individual. So spray-painting a house with swastikas is different than spray-painting vulgar words, since the former will likely intimidate all Jewish people in the community, whereas the latter is directed at a single person. (Though, of course, both are crimes deserving punishment.)

    Given this communal nature of the crime, there is a vital community interest in learning the outcome of the investigation, including arrests and convictions, if any, in a way there isn’t for other crimes.

  29. Posted March 5, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Release the results, obviously. But if someone has faked a hate incident why would you protect their identity? If the university says the incident is fake but they can’t say who it is who’s going to believe them? If you fake a hate incident you should be booted out of college anyway. It’s more destructive to university life than selling crack.

  30. Posted March 5, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    ” Otherwise, the university, in a misguided attempt to keep the evidence of hoaxes quiet, is complicit in creating an atmosphere of hatred and divisiveness on the campus.”
    Hoaxes NOT dispelled can carry on for years, over generations and morph into something it is not.
    The truth can cut this off at the pass, presumably. Unfortunatly at the same time raising the spector of some current crop of students who seem to want protection from all things perceived intellectually or physically foul to decry, WRONG ANSWER! and picking up “baseball bats” and/or other means to sort it out. In other words, they don’t give a fig about the truth.

    • Posted March 5, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      just as an afterthought… by not disclosing and outing hoaxes this all adds to the fake news phenomenon and fuzzy lines regarding the truth which is of course, not ideal in todays climate.

  31. Posted March 5, 2019 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the above consensus: results should be published, regardless of whether the hate crime turns out to be true, hoax, or undetermined.

  32. Heather Hastie
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it should be made public. However, the perpetrators shouldn’t be named if they’re students, even if they did it deliberately to foster an atmosphere allowing people to claim abuse etc.

    Despite being adults and responsible for their actions, there’s still a lot of immaturity re decision making before their brains grow. Of course, there’s immaturity in decision making after their brains are fully grown too, but there has to be a point where they will be named and shamed.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 5, 2019 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      In the US, the name of anyone over 18 who is arrested by law enforcement is publicly available.

  33. eric
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I really dislike the idea of a University “investigating” a crime in the first place. The police and district attorney’s office should do that.

    So my take is going to be different from the overwhelming ‘yes’ votes above. I’m going to say: the University should report the incident to the police, cooperate with the police investigation, and while it’s ongoing, they should refer all questions about it to the police. Once it’s done, if they want to levy some additional/different penalty on the accused, then yes they should publicly say what that is and why they’re doing it. But if they don’t, then questions about what the investigation entailed etc. are best directed to the police.

    Now, if the University is investigating and punishing a non crime – such as hate speech absent anything like a violent threat, vandalism, etc. – then that brings up a whole bunch of other issues. I do think they should explain themselves in this sort of case, but it’s also worth remembering that 1st year students could be 17 and therefore minors. And I’m not sure that outing the minor target of a University investigation into a non-crime is something that should necessarily be done. If, eventually, they punish some student for a non-crime, then yes obviously I think they should explain what they did and why they did it. But if some 1st year is accused of a non-crime, and the university investigation sees no compelling reason to believe the accusation, then I don’t see a good reason to release the name of the accused.

  34. Posted March 5, 2019 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    If they find out it was a hoax, they gave an obligation to say it was. Release the name if over eighteen.

    Same answer if not a hoax.

    • Posted March 5, 2019 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      if eighteen or older.

  35. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    How could one possibly disagree?


  36. Forse
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Yes, of course.
    (Perhaps do a poll to confirm, but seems pretty much unanimous).
    Schools that don’t are gutless. And there are plenty of those.

  37. JezGrove
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Yes, the college should announce the results of its investigations, even if they were inconclusive. It’s as important to know if it’s a hoax as if there’s a genuine campaign of intimidation. It is equally important to punish those responsible if they can be identified. A threat to kill members of a minority that leads to genuine fear and missed classes is just as serious, regardless of whether it was a hoax or not.

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