Hate crime victim: De Anza College administration’s response fails to ease LGBTQ community’s concerns

February 16, 2018

You’re walking up the stairs of the Flint garage. It’s a cold and dark January evening and the last thing you hear before taking a fist to the head and falling unconscious is “Faggot!”

DeeJea Smith, a 28-year-old anthropology major was attacked twice in the same De Anza College parking garage, with the last incident taking place on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Smith, who is transgender, was leaving the library late in the evening to go to his car on the fourth floor of the garage. A man yelled an anti-gay slur before punching Smith in the face, knocking him unconscious.

“I got over the assault really quickly,”Smith said. “I am not over how the school has treated it.” It wasn’t about him anymore, but how it could happen again to another student.

Smith said his main concern now was the administration’s failure to ease the LGBTQ community’s concerns. All the resources provided were not helpful and weren’t applicable to him and the school couldn’t take the time to research who he was and what he actually could have used, he said.

In response to the hate crime, the Office of Equity and the Jean Miller Resource Room arranged events on campus such as the filming of “The Laramie Project” shown on Feb. 14.

Tony Santa Ana, faculty coordinator of the Office of Equity, said the office is commitmented to social justice, equity and inclusion.

Santa Ana said the Office of Equity has organized many essential community conversations to address and understand people’s concerns and feelings on campus. Smith still said he felt like it wasn’t enough.

He wanted more understanding of the grey situations in life, and more specifically, the help of psychological services, Smith said.

Smith has already gone over the 12-session limit of De Anza’s Psychological Services and he has not been able to talk to a counselor. President Brian Murphy said it’s because of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations that the college could not provide the service.

Smith said he was given multiple reasons for the 12-session limit such as the law, lack of funding and no space available. “Every community college follows CCRs. Why does FHDA limit to 12 and San Jose City [College] has no limits?”

Smith, along with many other students, said this could have also been prevented if there was surveillance at the school, an ongoing issue initially presented to the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees on Feb. 2.

“Will the budget be more important than the safety of De Anza students?” asked April Nicholson, one of the student who went to the Foothill-De Anza board of Trustees meeting, in a Facebook post.

Murphy responded to the event in a KTVU interview: “The broader cultural question I think the students appropriately raised is whether or not as a campus if we can talk about how all of our students can feel safer.”

He said that De Anza is doing as much to bring awareness as possible.

Smith said he wants to not just open up another conversation, but actually see results and change from what happened, even if it does mean leaving the school entirely.

“I don’t want to be here anymore. I can not stand being on this campus,” Smith said. “All they had to do was give me proper resources and it wouldn’t have been blown out of proportion.”

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