Parents of hate crime targets speak out

(Parents spoke candidly with administrators during the meeting. Photo by Madison Rosbach.)

Approximately 15 members of the FSU community, including parents, staff and students, discussed the recent racial hate crimes and relevant concerns at a meeting in the Forum on Jan. 30.

Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, urged students to invite their parents to the event via an email sent to the entire student body.

Only two parents attended – Robin Harvey and Diane Privette – both of them parents of hate crime targets.

Junior Nicole Harvey was a target of the first two hate crimes, while sophomore Jordan Privette-Jackson, who was present at the meeting, was the target of the sixth.

Robin Harvey and Diane Privette both expressed concern for their children. Privette said she would volunteer time to help the investigation in whatever way she could.

“I am here looking for change,” she said. “Whatever meeting you will have, I will be there.”

Sophomore Jose Merida, Privette-Jackson’s roommate, also attended. He said his parents could not come, but his mother wanted to get involved.

Merida relayed his mother’s ideas to the group – including mandatory floor meetings for residence halls and more open forums like the one held on Oct. 16.

“We have a lot of tools that aren’t being used,” Merida said.

Hate crime targets and their parents advocated for the installment of cameras in the hallways and stairwells of residence halls.

President F. Javier Cevallos raised possible concerns about student privacy.

“This is the students’ home,” Cevallos said, explaining why cameras have only been installed in elevators and communal areas of residence halls.

Privette-Jackson said his feelings of unease about living in North Hall took precedence over privacy issues.

“It doesn’t feel like a home anymore,” Privette-Jackson said.

Both Diane Privette and Robin Harvey said the meeting would have been more effective and well attended if it were held on a Saturday afternoon. Privette expressed interest in monthly or bi-monthly meetings.

Robin Harvey added the University has failed to effectively notify parents of the incidents and events like the meeting. She said she wants both hard copy letters and emails to be sent to parents.

“Financial Aid has the addresses – you can use that means,” she said. “They find you when they want the bill paid.”

Glenn Cochran, associate dean of students and director of Residence Life, discussed a prospective neighborhood watch program to be put in place, beginning with Corinne Hall Towers.

According to Cochran, similar programs have been started at the University of Toronto and the University of Texas – Arlington. He said in order to be able to implement the programs, Residence Life will require student involvement.

“We need the students to help catch the person or persons that are doing this,” Cochran said.

According to a statement in the  packet handed out at the meeting, members of Residence Life “are assessing if there is interest in Towers to launch a pilot program this semester.”

FSUPD Sgt. Martin Laughlin said his department has reached out to agencies in Boston for assistance, but did not provide any further information.

“The cases are still being actively investigated,” Laughlin said in an email. “At this time, I cannot give any names of the agencies.”

Laughlin added he would inform The Gatepost when he is given authorization to release the names.