SACRAMENTO -- A racial bullying case that caused shock and outrage at San Jose State and beyond has prompted California lawmakers to examine how all of the state's public colleges handle student harassment and hate crimes, Assembly Speaker John Perez announced Wednesday.

Assemblywoman Shirley D. Weber -- an Africana Studies professor at San Diego State for 40 years -- will lead the new Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate.

"It's clear from this particularly disturbing incident -- one that hearkens back to uglier times in our nation's history -- that we still have a lot of work to do to ensure California's college campuses are safe and welcoming educational environments for every student," Weber, D-San Diego, said in a prepared statement.

This is the latest response to a report that a black student was relentlessly bullied by his white roommates in their suite last fall. The four white students -- accused of calling him racist names, fastening a bicycle lock around his neck and barricading him in his room -- face misdemeanor hate crime and battery charges and have been suspended from school.

An independent task force convened by San Jose State is also investigating the case and is expected to complete a report by the end of the month.

The Assembly committee will hold hearings and review policies and procedures at the California State University, University of California and California Community Colleges systems. It also will make recommendations for making campuses more welcoming for students of all backgrounds.


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