Providence College students, faculty and staff have a right to feel safe and secure in their own homes, a state senator said Tuesday.
Roughly a third of Rhode Island households were considered to be at high risk for hate crimes in 2016, according to a 2016 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which is the largest mental health organization in the United States.
The report found that the number of hate crimes increased by about 7 percent during the 2016 school year, with hate crimes on college campuses rising by nearly 5 percent.
“We have a national problem that’s gotten worse, not better, and this is a way for us to step up and try to fix it,” Rhode Island State Sen. Joseph G. Piazza, D-Essex, said.
State Sen. Anthony A. Pangilinan, D, also a Republican, said hate crimes are a national issue, but he said he wants to get involved in the state legislature to create new laws to combat them.
“I want to make sure that if we have these incidents, we get them addressed,” Pangillinan said.
“I think it’s important to make it a priority, and I think we need to take the same approach to other crimes.”
A hate crime is defined as an act of violence against a person based on their ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, marital or parenting status, or other characteristics.
A hate crime occurs when someone makes threats against someone because of that person’s race, color, religion or sex, Pangili said.
The number of reported hate crimes nationally increased by almost 6 percent between 2015 and 2016, with some states seeing more than 100 hate crimes per 100,000 residents, according a 2015 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.