WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University reported the second-highest number of hate crimes among the country's colleges last year, according to statistics compiled by the FBI.
The seven alleged hate crimes reported on the West Lafayette campus in 2011 were the most among Indiana colleges, the Journal & Courier reported Sunday (http://on.jconline.com/UVP9D1 ). So far in 2012, Purdue police have documented 12 hate crimes.
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The FBI report said five of the incidents reported at Purdue reflected racial bias and two were related to religion. The offenses involved assault, intimidation and vandalized property.
The largest number of hate crimes last year and this year were reported against blacks, closely followed by Jews. Other alleged victims included Muslims, Asians, whites and a gay man, the newspaper said. The majority were acts of vandalism.
A hate crime is defined in federal law as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation."
One hundred hate crimes were reported in Indiana last year, including 13 on college campuses.
Besides Purdue, hate crimes were reported at Indiana State, Indiana University-Southeast and Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.
Purdue officials attributed the number of local reports to increased awareness and an online reporting system created in 2010, when Purdue reported 11 hate crimes.
"I am confident that we are getting better reporting now," campus Police Chief John Cox said. "It is unfortunate but in my experience some crimes against people -- sexual assault, battery -- go unreported, but now we have software that is in place. We have the ability for anyone on campus, for visitors, to report bias incidents now."
Tyrell Connor, president of the Purdue Black Graduate Student Association, said the number of hate crime reports show Purdue does have a problem handling discrimination. In the past year, students and staff have held rallies against racial incidents on campus and formed an anti-racism coalition.
"What this immediately says to me is that Purdue's campus creates an environment that allows for certain individuals to feel comfortable to commit these hate acts," he said. "My dream would be to actually sit down with top university officials and (incoming) President Mitch Daniels and work together on solving this problem."
Junior Victoria Loong, a Chinese-American who has criticized classmates' online insults of Asian students, said statistics are less important than experience.
"Numbers don't matter; what we're actually experiencing does," she said.
The FBI database includes 600 campuses. Of those, 500-- including IU-Bloomington -- reported no hate crimes, though IU's annual security report listed three in 2011.