UNM investigates possible hate crime

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It doesn’t get much worse.

A UNM student came back to her dorm room to find the most offensive word you can imagine scrawled on the door.

“I was doing my laundry and I came upstairs and I found on the white board on one of my suitemates’ doors,” said UNM sophomore Cinnamon Burton.

The white board had the n-word scrawled on it. Burton is the only African American student that lives in the suite.

“I guess I was just embarrassed because this was the first time they put it out there for everyone to see,” she said.

Burton says the discovery came after months of fellow students on her floor in Laguna Hall making demeaning and racist comments.

The latest incident was enough for Burton to speak up – and move out.

“I feel like by bringing it to light, more people will know that it’s not OK and never was – and it shouldn’t continue,” she said.

The university says it isn’t taking this lightly.

After the incident was reported Friday, Dean of Students Tomas Aguirre investigated and found the person who did it. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, that student could face anything from cultural sensitivity training to probation.

UNM President Bob Frank created the Civil Campus Council last year to address these kinds of issues.

The council was already scheduled to hold a panel discussion this Thursday about the casual use of the n-word on campus.

“No one wants to be called or that term being used, directed toward them – so it really does affect our student population,” said Scott Carreathers, Director of African American Student Services.

Carreathers estimates this is the ninth incident on campus in the past few years.

“The university and the president have taken this very seriously, but the fact of the matter is we’re talking about a culture that I think needs to really be addressed, taken seriously and changed,” he said.

African American students make up less than 3 percent of UNM’s student body.

Students say hearing – and seeing – the n-word on campus has become all too familiar.

“The main issue is ignorance,” said junior Onesimum Al-Amin. “There’s really nothing complex about it. It’s ignorance and that’s what we have to chalk it up to.”

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