The Motivation for the Study

During 2000 and 2001, the City of Valparaiso experienced numerous incidents in which individuals were harassed or assaulted because of their race or sexual orientation. As a result of these incidents, then-Mayor David Butterfield and then-President of Valparaiso University Alan Harre asked the Valparaiso University Community Research and Service Center (CRSC) to help identify the issues surrounding these incidents and work towards some consensus as to what should be done. During the initial investigation, it became clear that there were disagreements among residents with regards to the extent and nature of the problem. For example, there were questions about:

  • How many similar incidents have occurred in the area?

  • What types of incidents have occurred?

  • Where have these incidents occurred?

  • Who are the perpetrators, and who are the victims?

  • Are these incidents becoming more frequent?

  • Are these incidents becoming more severe?