Isolated incidents of harassment should be considered in the development of stronger harassment protocols at Syracuse University
The ongoing investigation into an alleged incident of Islamophobic harassment on Syracuse University’s campus is a reminder to the administration that discriminatory harassment requires efforts to both properly address the issue and prevent it.
An unidentified undergraduate student allegedly faced repeated harassment by an Islamophobic roommate, according to an email sent to students in the women’s and gender studies department, which the student is part of. The alleged harassment, which was later reported to the Department of Public Safety, included the roommate tearing up a Quran and playing Ku Klux Klan speeches.
The alleged harassment is especially troubling in the context of the flux of hate speech and discrimination in the United States following a politically charged election and the election of President Donald Trump, whose campaign and administration has been marked by anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions.
Although there is no evidence to suggest Islamophobia runs rampant or is even commonplace at SU, isolated incidents such as the alleged situation involving the Islamophobic roommate must be recognized as catalysts for change to prevent future cases of harassment.
SU should emphasize working from the ground up to combat harassment and Islamophobia on campus by extensively training resident advisers to recognize prejudice and look out for students who may be victims of it. This is especially important for RAs who oversee freshmen, considering many freshman roommates are randomly assigned.
Although it is obviously essential for the university to take the proper measures to address harassment to protect and accommodate the victim, SU can work to prevent future incidents by emphasizing the repercussions of the harasser in addition to repairing the situation for the victim.
Ultimately, it is important for the university to take strong actions on the harasser to avoid portraying these incidents as easy fixes that are quickly forgotten.
Published on February 13, 2017 at 10:33 am