The UCLA community’s reaction last week to multiple occurrences of vandalism on campus involving racial and sexist slurs highlighted the hurtful consequences that such actions can create.

Students rallied on Thursday against the discriminatory sentiments displayed by the acts of vandalism, and expressed concern about campus climate. But this board hopes that amid planning rallies and forums, an opportunity is made to discuss the importance of reporting hate crimes in an efficient and timely manner.

It is imperative that incidents are reported to university police immediately as a first step toward crime prevention and toward gauging the campus climate problems that students claimed are present at UCLA during last week’s rally. Students can call 9-1-1 in an emergency situation, and for non-emergency situations, students should call the UCPD dispatch center.

Anees Hasnain, community service commissioner for the Undergraduate Students Association Council, was the first to see last week’s vandalism of a Vietnamese Student Union sign. Her first step was to report the incident to campus administrators in an email before contacting university police.

Hasnain, a fourth-year sociology student, said she wasn’t sure what to do when she saw the sign, and looking back realizes the first step should have been to report the vandalism to police.

Hasnain’s experience is indicative of how any student might react in an unfamiliar situation, but also demonstrates a need for students to be more aware of how to act in a similar instance. The most important thing in situations like these is to report incidents to the UCPD as quickly as possible.

University police investigate each report, said UCPD spokeswoman Nancy Greenstein. The sooner an incident is reported, the more likely university police will have information needed to find a suspect before evidence is contaminated.

Most importantly, reports are crucial to UCPD’s ability to determine patterns with hate crimes and to help direct victims of hate speech to campus resources.

UCPD does not receive many reports of hate crimes, Greenstein said, making it hard to quantify the claim that there is a problem with campus climate.

“Sometimes people won’t report an incident because they aren’t sure whether or not it constitutes hate speech,” Greenstein said. She added that in any case, students should call UCPD so they can then determine whether an incident qualifies as hate speech.

If we are going to try to gauge if there is an issue with campus climate, as students claimed this week, the first step is to report these hate crimes when they are encountered so that the university has an accurate and tangible report of how often incidents like this occur.

Hate crimes are by no means acceptable, and it’s up to UCLA students as individuals to follow the necessary actions to maintain safety and tolerance on campus. If seemingly small incidents go unreported, it is difficult for the university to have an accurate perspective on campus climate.