SACRAMENTO -- Prompted by the uproar over an incident of alleged racial harassment at San Jose State University, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) announced Wednesday the formation of a special committee addressing hate crimes at California universities.
"Over these past few years we have seen too many incidents on California college campuses perpetrated by people with malicious intent to harm or demean others," Pérez said in a statement. "We need to act vigorously to ensure that our campuses are welcoming to all and reflective of the rich diversity of this great state."
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), a professor emeritus of Africana studies at San Diego State University, will chair the panel, known as the Select Committee on Campus Climate. She's joined by 10 other Democrats and four Republicans.
Weber said the committee was created in response to a recent case at San Jose State, where four students have been accused of racially motivated bullying and assault of a black classmate.
"It's clear from this particularly disturbing incident — one that harkens back to uglier times in our nation's history — that we still have a lot of work to do to ensure California's college campuses are safe and welcoming educational environments for every student," said Weber said in a statement. "My committee colleagues and I will be holding hearings over the next year to explore the current campus climate for students throughout the CSU, UC and Community College systems and consider what policy changes are necessary to improve it."