The speaker of the state Assembly has created a 15-member committee to investigate student harassment and hate crimes.

"Over these past few years we have seen too many incidents on California college campuses perpetrated by people with malicious intent to harm or demean others," said Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), whose office announced the panel formation Wednesday.

Last year, three white students at San Jose State University were charged with hate crimes and a fourth suspended after they allegedly harassed a black 17-year-old student by locking him in his room, nicknaming him "three-fifths" -- a reference to a slavery-era constitutional provision that counted blacks as three-fifths of a person -- and parading a Confederate flag.

State Assemblywoman Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego), who worked as a professor at San Diego State, will chair the committee. The group will evaluate public school system policies to "determine what needs to be done to improve campus climate," according to a release.

The date for the group's first meeting has not been determined; there are 14 members in addition to Weber.

“My committee colleagues and I will be holding hearings over the next year to explore the current campus climate for students throughout the CSU, UC and Community College systems and consider what policy changes are necessary to improve it," Weber said.

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