Canisius investigation finds racist dorm incident not hate crime

Dec 13, 2016

Canisius College says it has identified all of the individuals involved with a black baby doll found in a dorm elevator last month and related racist social media posts. Two of the students have left the college and the others have been disciplined.

In early November, the college issued a campus-wide statement about a black baby doll that reportedly was hung with a noose around its neck and related social media posts about "Trump fans” that were sent to other students.  

The black baby doll in the elevator from a Facebook post in November.
Credit WBFO News photo

Canisius President John Hurley now says Public Safety has identified all of the individuals involved and the sequence of events. As a result of college disciplinary roceedings, the two students identified as "primary participants in the residence hall room incident have left the college. Others identified received sanctions appropriate to their levels of involvement in the incidents."

Hurley says federal student privacy laws prevent him from saying anything further about the disciplinary cases, except that "the conduct did not rise to the level of a violation of federal or state hate crime laws" and the college did not need to "refer the matter to law enforcement agencies."

However, he says the college retained a recently retired federal prosecutor with 35 years experience to evaluate the investigation conducted by the college and he independently concluded it was "professional, thorough and complete."

Further, Hurley says the college has established a bias incident reporting hotline. If any member of the campus community witnesses or becomes aware of an incident involving any form of bias, they are encouraged to call 888-BIAS (2427). This will connect with a voicemail where details can be left anonymously.

He says the challenge now is to create a culture at Canisius College that will make incidents like this "simply unthinkable in the future." The college will be convening a steering committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni "to address how to facilitate a campus-wide conversation on race."