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Hate Crime at a Quaker Campus?

January 24, 2007

While the details are still coming together as campus officials and local police investigate, a few facts seem clear: Three members of the Guilford College football team were arrested on Monday after three Palestinian students filed assault complaints with the local police department.

The college has released a statement on the incident, which took place in the early morning hours on Saturday. An official with the campus department of public safety confirmed the accuracy of a news report that ran in the News & Record of Greensboro, and that  detailed  reports of a group assault on the Palestinian students.

“This kind of violence is rare at a Quaker college,” said Aaron Fetrow, dean of student life, in a Webcast by the newspaper. “We will not tolerate this violence or the verbal abuse.”

Court documents examined by the newspaper reported complaints that  three students were attacked at Bryan Hall, a dormitory, and that the attackers used their fists, feet, and brass knuckles, and hurled racial slurs. The attack involved “at least 15 members of the football team," according to the police report. Three members of the football team were arrested and later released on $2,000 bond. They could not be reached and there were no reports on their version of the incident.

Awartani said that he and the other two students were beaten by assailants who hurled racial epithets and called them “dirty terrorists.” Awartani is a student at North Carolina State University  and said that he and his two friends, who are students at Guilford, had attended a Quaker school in the West Bank before coming to the United States. He said that he was surprised at the attack, especially as it happened on a Quaker campus.

"We tried not to fight them, we did not insult them back, but they beat the hell out of us," he told the newspaper.

Nic Brown, assistant director college relations, told Inside Higher Ed that the conflict involved about a dozen students and was seen by several people. “There’s a lot of information collection going on.”

When asked about the oddity of such a violent act happening on a Quaker campus, he said, “No kidding. Guilford will not tolerate violence or verbal abuse. We are firmly founded on our core values with include diversity, integrity. and justice. It is a very unfortunate event.” He said that the college is conducting its own investigation into the matter, and officials have stated that punishment could result in expulsion.

In a statement, President Kent Chabotar said, "We need to get all the facts from every perspective and let the judicial process to take its course as expeditiously as possible. Guilford’s policy for handling disciplinary matters applies equally to everyone, and the college holds deep allegiance to the truth. Where violations of policy are found, there will be consequences commensurate with the offense and precedent."

 

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