SAN JOSE — Two years before last month’s explosive hate-crime charge ignited outrage and intensified scrutiny of race relations at San Jose State, an in-depth study found that black students experienced troubling and sometimes racist behavior from professors, coaches and other students.
But the 100-page report — commissioned by a previous SJSU president and submitted to the new administration in 2011 — was never publicized, and incoming President Mo Qayoumi disbanded the advisory group behind the project to start his own committee on diversity. That group has met only once — this fall — in the months before last week’s revelations that four white students had been charged with tormenting a black roommate in their dorm for weeks.
Some student leaders say they stumbled upon the report this spring — after trying to convey to the school very similar concerns about faculty diversity and stereotypes.
“I was just surprised that pretty much everything we were trying to bring to the university’s attention was already brought to the university’s attention two years ago,” said Gary Daniels, a student and president of the Black Unity Group, “and nothing was done about it.”
The hate-crime case has focused national attention on San Jose State, with black students and community leaders protesting under one of the campus’ enduring symbols of the civil rights movement: the towering Black Power statue of Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos with fists raised high.
Sociology associate professor Susan Bell Murray, who conducted the study for the school’s former Committee on Campus Climate, had hoped the research would improve students’ experiences on campus.
“Basically, I got an email saying, ‘Thanks, we read the report. We don’t want to put it on our website,” she said, echoing concerns of students who have felt ignored by the campus’s top leaders.
The report — now posted on Murray’s faculty Web page — opened a window into the experiences of black students as well as Hispanic, Vietnamese, white and gay students.