Coronavirus: Hate crime on campus and what to do about it

Young person in a face mask
(Photo: Aleks Magnusson/Pexels)

This article about Coronavirus: Hate crime on campus and what to do about it was published by the Great British Mag content team on 7 February, 2020

As the novel coronavirus spreads, so does misinformation and unnecessary panic. Unfortunately, fear can sometimes cause people to react with negativity or even aggression as they make assumptions about others purely based on the colour of their skin.

There is absolutely no room for racism on or off campus and here’s what you should do if you experience it.

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is any crime that is targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards that person’s race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It can be physical or verbal abuse, including name calling, assault, blackmail, harassment, intimidation, bullying or exploitation.

For example, three attackers recently targeted a Chinese postgraduate student wearing a face mask in Sheffield. They thought she may have coronavirus so they verbally abused and nudged her, as they asked why she was wearing a face mask and if she had a problem.

What to do if you experience a hate crime

Importantly, if you have any severe physical injuries, call 999 and request urgent medical attention.

If your university is signed up to an app called SafeZones (this includes a quarter of universities across the UK) you can press a button to immediately alert various authorities. Pressing the Emergency, First-Aid or Help button will put you in touch with the most appropriate person to address your immediate needs, such as your university’s security or emergency services.

If your university isn’t signed up to the app, you can call your student union or your university’s student support team. The details of these should be listed on your university’s website. These services can help you process the incident and talk you through your options in reporting it, including alerting the local police.

If you know the identity of your perpetrator and they’re a fellow student, you can report them to your university.

Seeking support after a hate crime

If going through a hate crime incident has affected you emotionally, you can often seek counselling through your university. The charity Student Minds also offers peer support groups at several UK universities. You can also seek mental health advice from a doctor through the NHS, which typically includes an interview and evaluation.

Read our articles on travel restrictions affecting international students in the UK and how to identify the symptoms of coronavirus