Police investigating possible hate-motivated harassment at Friley

The+Student+Wellness+Center%2C+which+is+located+in+Friley+Hall%2C+will+be+utilizing+the+%24300%2C000+Garrett+Lee+Smith+Suicide+Prevention+Grant+that+Iowa+State+was+awarded+this+year.%C2%A0

The Student Wellness Center, which is located in Friley Hall, will be utilizing the $300,000 Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant that Iowa State was awarded this year. 

Michael Heckle

Iowa State Police are investigating a possible hate-motivated harassment against a student at Friley Hall, according to ISU Police Chief Michael Newton. 

Officers were called to Friley Hall Saturday to investigate reports of harassment involving racial motivated statements and a drawing on a door-mounted white board.

Police have not disclosed the nature of the statements or the drawings, but said they were “definitely hateful and hurtful.”

“The hard part is that harassment does not fall under one of Iowa’s crimes that we could enhance with a hate crime enhancement,” Newton said. 

Under Iowa law, only four types of crimes — assault, criminal mischief, arson and trespassing — qualify for a hate crime enhancement.

“It just depends on how this investigation goes,” Newton said. “We’re still interviewing people and seeing if we can get any leads.” 

On Tuesday, ISU Police led a presentation and discussion on hate crimes during the fourth Campus Conversations event at Parks Library. During the event, ISU police Lt. Josh Hale and Officer Natasha Greene clarified the term hate crime under Iowa law as an enhancement to other crimes.

“In order for it to be a hate crime, it must be committed against a person or person’s property because of the person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability,” Hale said at the event.

This most recent incident comes just weeks after police and students found a series of white nationalist posters and stickers both on and off campus. Police say that because many of those posters were attached to public property, they most likely would not qualify for a hate crime enhancement under Iowa law.

The Annual Safety Report for 2017, released over the weekend, showed a small blip in hate crimes committed on campus, increasing from one in 2015 to five in 2016.

“We are seeing a trend of more hate and more behaviors that definitely fit into that category,” Newton said. “That seems to be across the country.”