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Grand Forks Herald: “Jewish Group Criticizes Kupchella” Response

April 25, 2008

An article running in tomorrow’s Grand Forks Herald describes the disappointment Professor Weinstein and myself are feeling after meeting with UND President Charles Kupchella. Joe Marks did a pretty good job summing up my frustrations with the meeting, mainly being that the President spent most of the meeting stonewalling Kenny (the other student) and I.

What really disturbed me about the article, however, were the blatant inaccuracies and downright lies told by the President in the text. I’d like to clarify a few things stemming from that meeting:

  • We met for no more than 50 minutes at 2:00PM, not “about an hour and a half” as Kupchella was quoted as saying in the article. I can pretty much guarantee he wasn’t expecting the meeting to go more than a half-hour as his secretary came in at 2:35PM and said that his 2:30PM appointment was in the lobby. When we left at about 2:45PM or 2:50PM, the person waiting was gone. I was still able to make a 3:00PM thesis committee meeting with time to spare.
  • Kupchella is quoted as saying “I don’t even have a memory of them asking me ‘does this look like a swastika to you?’ What I told them is there’s an investigation of the incident ongoing, and I’m sorry they felt like it was taking way too long.” The only shred of truth in this quote is in the latter sentence. We showed President Kupchella the cell phone pictures the victim took of the swastika. He refused to answer the question on at least three occasions. When asked if the writing of “_______ IS A JEW” was the malicious calling out of a minority student and therefore a hate crime, Kupchella still refused to answer.
  • As to the comment expressing the fact that we believe the investigation was taking way too long, I’ve had several media people express their surprise that nothing was done by either the Housing department or the University Police Department immediately after the first report was made in February. As a matter of fact, this has been the common reaction made by most of my family and friends.

My intention in writing this blog post is to respond to these untrue assertions by President Kupchella and not to enter into a vicious back-and-forth between the JSO and the administration. I’m incredibly interested in seeing this move forward from here, but so long as the administration continues its refusal to acknowledge the fact that what occurred was a hate crime and the fact that they made very serious mistakes in the handling of this issue, moving forward and being productive is impossible.

In the interest of keeping my thoughts looking forward, I found this article from Security on Campus Inc. which outlines how a university should handle incidences of hate crimes. It’s an interesting read, especially when compared to how UND has chosen to mis-handle the current situation. Here’s an example from the article of the policy from the University of Michigan:

Crime Prevention Model Policy-University of Michigan

“Hate crimes are viewed in the community not only as crimes against the targeted victim, but also as a crime against the victim’s group as a whole. Working constructively with segments of this larger audience after such episodes is essential to help reduce fears that stem from possible retaliation, help prevent additional incidents and encourage any other previously victimized individuals to step forward and report those crimes. Towards this end, this department’s community relations function, or officers so assigned, shall:

  • Meet with neighborhood groups, residents in target communities and other identified groups to ally fears, relay this department’s concern over and response to this and related incidents, reduce the potential for counter-violence and provide safety, security and crime prevention information
  • Provide direct and referral assistance to the victim and his family
  • Conduct public meetings on hate threats and violence in general, and as it relates to specific incidents
  • Establish a liaison with formal organizations and leaders
  • Expand, where appropriate, existing preventative programs such as anti-hate seminars for school children”
  • I can’t help but imagine that if this had been done in February, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post today.

    One Comment leave one →
    1. Panda Wasded permalink
      April 25, 2008 5:40 pm

      the wandering jew…I have a question. Who are the ‘riff-raff’ you were referring to in your comments on Dakota’s show this afternoon?

      It’s unfortunate that the person who called you out for your use of this phrase used the words he did–he had a very good point that was lost in Dakota’s overbearing, overly-PC response.

      That point is, you have a responsibility to avoid spreading the kind of intolerance you are railing against right now! In using phrases like, ‘…it keeps the riff-raff out’, regardless of the context and regardless of the intent, you are being hypocritical, and undermining your own message.

      As a person who is very supportive of the Jewish community in this case, I cringed when I heard you say that on the radio today. It was as thoughtless and ignorant as a Cowboys and Indians party, or a song-and-dance in blackface. I was even more discouraged to hear you explain that it was tongue-in-cheek, and it was okay because it was commonly used. You should be ashamed, sir.

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