The University of Wisconsin Police Department recently released the 2022 UWPD Annual Fire & Safety Report, which shows four reported hate crimes on the UW campus in 2021 — including two racially-motivated vandalisms, one vandalism motivated by bias against sexual orientation and one racially-motivated simple assault.

These bias-motivated crimes have continued into the 2022-23 school year.

In early September 2022, anti-Semitic chalkings were found in multiple locations by an unknown person including in front of Hillel — UW’s Jewish student center, according to UWPD spokesperson Marc Lovicott. 

“We believe hate and bias has no place on our campus,” Levicott said in an email to The Badger Herald. “However — unless threatening in nature — statements like these are
typically within one’s first amendment rights and is not unlawful.”

Because nothing criminal occurred, no police investigation took place, Lovicott said.

Other bias incidents on campus include attacks against Asian-identifying UW-Madison students and staff. The prevalence of these kinds of attacks rose significantly during the pandemic and will likely outlast it, according to UW Southeast Asian Studies professor Tyrell Haberkorn.

“The context of rising anti-Asian hatred across the country is very significant,” Haberkorn said.

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that anti-Asian hate crimes increased 339% in 2021 from 2020.

The increase is in part due to an uptick in suspected hate crimes across America. The study found that Black Americans remained the most targeted group across most cities. The New York Jewish community reported the most hate crimes last year.

Spring and summer 2022 saw multiple attacks on UW students and staff members who identified as Asian. This included a physical attack against a Chinese Ph.D student by a group of men in June, according to the Madison Police Department incident report.

Attackers punched and kicked the man, even when he was on the ground. They did not say anything to him or steal anything from him, according to the report. The four attackers were arrested. The incident was not treated as a hate crime because it appears the attacks were at random. UWPD and the City of Madison Police Department have no information to believe the victims were targeted because of their race.

“In these instances, it was noted by investigators that these individuals were not targeting anyone specifically — instead, they were approaching random people who were in their path,” Lovicott said in a statement.

Still, following the attack, the university released a statement declaring their support for Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American populations on campus. 

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The statement detailed another incident that happened on the same day in which an undergraduate student who identified as Asian was walking on campus and a group of men repeatedly threw a banana at him. He faced injuries.

“Law enforcement does not know what motivated these crimes, but police investigators are gathering evidence and if they receive information that points to hate crimes they will be pursued as such,” the statement said. 

Another attack occurred in July 2022 when a group of men approached an Asian-identifying UW staff member while he was running on the Lakeshore path. The group of men yelled racial slurs, according to the UWPD incident report.

The suspect was arrested and UWPD requested a hate crime enhancer for this incident, according to the incident report. 

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Haberkorn referenced Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based organization that serves as a resource for those who want to document instances of discrimination. People who report are given an option to document their experience as a “hate incident” rather than as a “hate crime.”

Stop AAPI Hate uses the term “hate incident” because not all instances of discrimination are legally defined as crimes, such as hate speech, according to their website. The site says that although hate speech is technically legal, it can be very damaging and traumatizing and those who experience it should be able to document it.

Stop AAPI Hate says that they work to drive meaningful change through political advocacy and community capacity building. Stop AAPI Hate advocates for policies that strengthen human and civil rights protections and build strong networks across AAPI communities.

Instances in which attackers have used violent and discriminatory language against victims have been investigated and documented as hate crimes by UWPD. 

More recently, a 22-year-old man was arrested at Witte Residence Hall Sept. 29 after making verbal threats to a student, including comments about the victim’s race, according to the UWPD incident report.

This disturbance was investigated as a hate crime because the attacker made racially motivated comments and threats, according to Lovicott.

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Haberkorn said that the definition of “hate crime” should be expanded to apply to incidents that do not involve hate speech.

UWPD and the university can and should take more steps to support the APIDA community, according to Haberkorn. 

“I think that UWPD and the university should begin by explicitly recognizing the range of anti-Asian action and creating different forms of support for members of the community who are affected,” Haberkorn said. “This includes mental health support for members of the community facing PTSD and other trauma and expanded support for Asian and APIDA students organizations.”

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to include updated information regarding UWPD proceedings during listed incidents.