‘Hate crimes’ spark fury at Beloit College

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BELOIT — Hundreds of members of the Beloit College community came together on Monday to discuss instances of what the college is referring to as hate crimes on the campus.

The event, which was closed to the public, had a variety of speakers that included President Scott Bierman, staff and faculty members and students.

Whitney Helm, Beloit College spokesperson, said there was a resounding message by the speakers:

“We aren’t defined by this. We need to listen and find the best way to move forward and to be supportive of those affected by those hate crimes.”

Helm said in a press release that two Beloit College students were targets of hate crimes this weekend. An anti-Semitic note was placed under a student’s door in a college residence hall on Friday. Then on Monday, an anti-Muslim threat was spray painted on a different student’s residence hall door and an offensive symbol was painted on a nearby wall.

She said both events are currently under investigation by the Beloit Police Department.

Capt. Dan Risse said detectives are investigating three instances of potential hate crimes involving two individuals and are working with Beloit College. He wouldn’t comment further, as it’s an open investigation.

Immediately following the first event, Helm said the college increased the number of security staff on duty, increased the patrols on the residential side of campus and are installing more security cameras.

The college sent out email messages about the hate crime and the college’s current and planned responses to the campus as well as parents and guardians, Helm said.

“Beloit College continues to actively pursue inclusivity and anti-racist goals to make sure that all members of our community are safe and their voices are heard,” Helm said. “We deeply value and respect our students and all of the members of the Beloit community. Behavior like this does not define Beloit. It is completely antithetical to all the Beloit community stands for and will not be tolerated.”

Senior Emma Mooney said her professors were encouraging students to attend the event.

“There’s a lot of encouragement (on the campus) to keep the people in check,” Mooney said.

She said generally the campus has been expressing outrage and fear.

“I can’t speak to particular fears out there, because I’m not personally affected by this hate speech, but I can see the people around me being affected by it,” Mooney said. “It’s just scary for the individuals who were literally threatened and the people who share those identities, because it could’ve been them.”

She said she wanted to attend the talk to support those people who were affected by the incidents and to hear what college representatives have to say.

“This is also a good chance to direct people towards action,” Mooney said. “It’s an opportunity to gather for a positive change.”

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