Lehigh University Police Department is investigating a hate crime that took place on campus, according to a campus-wide Safety Bulletin sent by Jason Schiffer, assistant vice president of Campus Safety and chief of Lehigh University police, on April 20.
A group of four white individuals, not affiliated with the university or from the Bethlehem area, directed racist comments at a Black Lehigh student while driving on campus, the email said. The student, who was walking with a group of friends, ran after the car following the comments before disengaging and returning to his friends.
The four white individuals got out of their car, followed the student group and assaulted the Black student, Schiffer wrote. Following a verbal exchange, some of the individuals followed the students into a campus residence hall and assaulted the Black student again. The student, who has requested anonymity, did not suffer any serious physical injuries.
The incident was reported to LUPD after the suspects left campus. Schiffer said the suspects have been identified and criminal charges or restorative justice resolutions are being evaluated. The students involved are cooperating with the investigation.
“These racist comments and hate crime are deeply disturbing and upsetting,” Schiffer wrote. “They affect not just the students involved, but also other Black students and individuals in the Lehigh community. Hate speech and violence are not tolerated on Lehigh’s campus.”
President Joseph Helble sent a campus-wide email titled “Standing Against Hate” on April 20 in regards to the incident.
“I understand the anger and the fear that our Black students, faculty and staff experience, especially following reports of events such as these,” he wrote. “I, too, am angry. I am committed to our campus being that place where every member of the Lehigh community studies, engages and lives in an environment free from violence and free from hate.”
Schiffer encourages Lehigh community members who feel unsafe to call Campus Safety and Lehigh police, who are available 24/7 at 8-4200 for on-campus and (610) 758-4200 for off-campus.