While bias-related incidents are at the forefront of many students’ minds in the wake of graffiti incidents two weeks ago, hate crimes at Georgetown have actually been on a decline and occur at a comparable rate to other metropolitan universities.

“The number of hate crimes at Georgetown has been relatively low over the years, which I attribute to the inclusiveness of the university, and the seriousness with which it takes such incidents,” Joseph Smith, associate director of the Department of Public Safety, wrote in an email. “Last calendar year we had a spike in numbers, but that was mostly due to a series of graffiti acts that halted after DPS successfully concluded its investigation.”

Georgetown, in addition to the swastika and Hitler graffiti incidents this year, also experienced two Nazi graffiti occurrences in the spring of 2009 and one in the spring of 2008. In addition, two assaults based on sexual orientation have taken place in recent years, one in the fall of 2007 and one in the fall of 2009.

According to officials within the administration, however, such incidents were the exception. At a community meeting following the most recent instances of graffiti, Vice President for University Safety Rocco DelMonaco said he was surprised by how few incidents there had been at the university over the years.

Area universities have experienced similar instances of bias. In the fall of 2007, eight different cases of Nazi-inspired graffiti were found over three weeks at The George Washington University, according to The GW Hatchet.

In September 2007 a noose was reported hanging outside the black cultural studies center at the University of Maryland in College Park. The Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s student newspaper, reported a decline in hate crimes in recent years, dropping from 24 in 2004 to 10 in 2008.

The New York University Department of Public Safety reported no bias-related incidents in 2005 through 2007, the only time period available. Similarly, Columbia University’s Department of Public Safety reported no crimes committed between 2006 and 2008 that qualified as a hate crime.

The Columbia Spectator, however, reported that while no crimes have been identified as hate crimes over the last three years, there have been many potential bias-related incidents. The newspaper described a case in September 2007 in which homophobic and Islamophobic graffiti was discovered in a campus bathroom, as well as a noose left on the door of a black professor’s office.

“Downward trends may indicate a greater understanding and awareness among university students, strides in inclusiveness by metropolitan universities and consistent enforcement of student conduct codes and criminal codes pertaining to these acts,” Smith said.

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