UNM is working to improve campus safety in response to concerns from the African American community regarding hate crimes on campus.
Harold Bailey, president of the Albuquerque chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, along with African American Student Services Director Scott Carreathers, met with UNM President Robert Frank last month in an effort to strengthen UNM’s commitment to its black student community.
Although the NAACP does have a chapter at UNM, Bailey said it is important to re-establish communication with the University and build up the relationship the organization began with UNM during the presidency of David Schmidly.
“The main thing was to establish communication with President Frank,” Bailey said. “We just had a chance to get to know each other and establish positive lines of communication and respect.”
Bailey said there have been several hate crimes directed toward African American students and faculty on campus during the past school year. He said there also were incidents against people of different religious backgrounds.
“We’re concerned about the University community and the community at large, so it’s our responsibility to make sure that African Americans are being treated with respect and dignity regardless of what campus they’re on or which city they’re in,” Bailey said.
The most recent of these incidents occurred in March, when black UNM student Dominic Calhoun found a racist note on the door to his room in Coronado Hall.
The note, which was drawn on his roommate’s dry-erase board, depicted an image of a stick figure man drawn in black ink with a noose leading from the figure’s neck to the word “N****r.”
Bailey said UNM and the NAACP are trying to figure out the best ways to move forward.
“If we can make sure that we can implement positive programs that are going to improve the safety of all the students, all the faculty, and all the visitors on campus, then I think that’s the best thing we can do,” he said.
Carreathers said the meeting focused on building a stronger relationship and cooperation between UNM and the NAACP. He said UNM will communicate and prioritize community issues to reduce violence related to hate crimes on campus.
Carreathers said UNM has worked with the NAACP in the past to address racial issues.
“In the past, UNM has always had a relationship with the NAACP,” Carreathers said. “The meeting was intended to keep everyone abreast about what measures are taking place on campus for campus safety, recruitment and retention of black students.”
Carreathers said he will act as a liaison among UNM’s office of the president, the Division of Equity and Inclusion and the African American community on campus. He said Frank also agreed to Bailey’s request to start the Crime Stoppers Initiative, which would focus on preventing hate crime on campus and would encourage dialogues on the issue.