On Saturday night, University of Iowa student Marcus Owens was attacked by three white men in what Owens described to Chicago’s ABC7 as a racially motivated attack.
Owens’ uncle Darrell Owens told ABC7 that his nephew was leaving a bar when three white men yelled the “n-word” at him and then beat him up. Owens’ two front teeth were knocked out, and he sustained damage to his eye socket and received a dozen stitches on his lip.
While Owens’ attack was bad enough, the university’s lacking response has left students furious. They took to Twitter on Tuesday night using the hashtag #ExplainIowa to demand why the university hadn’t issued an alert through their Hawk Alert system to warn students about the attackers.
Remember that hawkalert that said 3 black male suspects in hoodies had robbed someone? They were speedy with that hawkalert. #ExplainIowa— Bernie or Die (@guavapapi) May 4, 2016
Students on Twitter complained that they receive Hawk Alerts when there are robberies, assaults, and even reports of violence at nearby schools like the University of Missouri, but as of yet there has been no Hawk Alerts to warn minority students about the hate crime.
I don't understand why there wasn't a hawk alert & why I'm finding about this through an ARTICLE posted from a different state. #ExplainIowa— bailz (@bailey_ploessl) May 4, 2016
In response to the university’s silence, the #ExplainIowa hashtag was trending on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. The university responded via Twitter to say they were looking into the incident.
#explainiowa UI officials first learned of the incident when called by a Chicago television station and are working to learn more (1/2)— University of Iowa (@uiowa) May 4, 2016
We are deeply disturbed by the incident & concerned for the student. We will inform the campus community as soon as we know more (2/2)— University of Iowa (@uiowa) May 4, 2016
University of Iowa spokesperson Thomas Moore told the Daily Dot in an email, “University of Iowa officials first learned of the incident late Tuesday afternoon from members of the media, but did not have any details or a police report to share publicly. University of Iowa Police contacted the Iowa City Police Department first thing this morning.”
University students received a crime alert at 10:45 CST on Wednesday morning. Moore explains, “A Crime Alert differs from a Hawk Alert. A Hawk Alert is issued to inform the campus community about current, ongoing potential threats to health and safety, such as a tornado or active shooter. A Crime Alert is issued after the UI is informed of an incident to communicate to the campus community about an incident that is not current or ongoing, but still may impact the health and safety of our community.”
However, the suspects in the attack have not yet been arrested and the university’s response comes nearly five days after the attack, leaving many students even more angry.