Action in the face of hate

As this post from delagar shows, my university is not the only university that is seeing an upsurge in hate incidents since the election.

The responses to these incidents by university leadership and by the community is extremely important.  My university, as it has been for all the years that I have been here and all of the bigoted racist things that one student or another has done (because this state school has never been a liberal paradise), has had a quick and strong response.  Now, as in the past, the university president comes down hard and reminds all of us that hate is not one of our school’s values.  Hate goes against our honor code.  Our school is inclusive of all.  (When, in the past, it’s been a student doing something horrific, usually said student ends up voluntarily leaving the school prior to an expulsion hearing, something that would never happen at say, Yale.)

This time around the president was echoed by student leaders, by the faculty staff, by our deans and so on.  Protests and education activities have been planned and all are invited.  A stronger response than anything I’ve seen previously, perhaps because everybody realizes that we must nip these kinds of things in the bud before they become normalized.  Because they are not normal.  Our mostly white male leadership is sending a strong signal that this behavior will not be tolerated, not on our campus.  I feel supported.

My university is also not the only university where a few “I’m not racist but… this is not a big deal/free speech means freedom from criticism but only for bigots/etc.” blowhards have piped up after the incident has been condemned.  The official response to these nay-sayers is also important.  In this most recent case, our dean came down hard (but politely) on one of our lecturers (a practitioner, which means he’s making about the same as faculty and has full benes) who condescendingly replied-all with one of these “I’m not racist but…”s to the official student response from student leaders in our major.  The dean’s firm response sends a signal to the students that they should keep fighting and to nay-sayers that they need to stop being oblivious jerks.

If your university hasn’t been making these kinds of responses there are still things that you can do.  Your voice alone may not do much (though it will still help), but you can ask your university president, your faculty senate, your chair, your dean, and so on to give an official response.   Especially if you are tenured.  Especially if they are white guys.  Nobody should officially accommodate hate, and silence can be seen as consent.  And maybe some of these folks just need a nudge to do the right thing.   When they important administrators do speak up, thank them for doing the right thing and making the environment safer and more inclusive.  Because their official actions do mean a lot.

If you’re at a university, have you seen an increase in hate incidents?  What has been the response at your school to these incidents?  Have you done anything in response?

13 Responses to “Action in the face of hate”

  1. Leah Says:

    Our school hasn’t had anything major happen. We actually had a big racism incident in the past few years, and we did come down hard. The kid left before we could expel. This time around, mostly verbal jabs and such. Our president came out with a strong email before break reminding everyone of the same things — hate is not our value, we value community, and community means caring for each other. It was a little treading the line in the middle, but that’s because we’ve also had some issues with kids from both sides of the aisle saying mean things to each other. I’ve been pretty pleased with the response, as things have calmed down here as far as we teachers can tell. I think our prior response to racism has been telling. We had also already initiated diversity studies and measures about a year ago that we’re continuing to work on and roll out. I’m glad to have upper leadership that really values that.

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Action item today: Taking a break from calling my senators about appointments for this one: (Links to how to contact your senators in the activism tab.)

    “I would like to urge Senator ________ to join the call for full and fair hearings on Russian influence in the presidential election.”

    • jlp Says:

      I called all three of my representatives (both senators and congressperson) on this issue on Monday. It was quite a variety of experiences:

      – Senator 1 had already made a statement. I thanked hir for it.
      – Senator 2 lost this last election. No one picked up the phone when I called. No one has yet called me back, despite my leaving my name and number. I am Not Happy.
      – My representative had not made a statement as of Monday, but hir staff member was chatty and told me they were very glad to hear from me. The next morning, Rep made a statement! (I realize this was not just due to me, but still felt good!)

  3. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    We’ve had a few hate incidents in the past 5 years, mostly by outsiders coming to campus. There has been a strong reaction each time, both by the administration and by the students (and by the police in an assault incident). There has not been an uptick here since the election, but being the leftmost community in California means that there were very few Trump supporters locally (countywide only 17% voted for Trump, lower than the 22% who voted for local Republican candidates).

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    The woman in my sister’s representative’s office said that there are no congressmen on the hill. Last Thursday house leadership decided that they had no more legislative business to do for the rest of the year. So they all went home.

    Why did this not become a news headline?

  5. delagar Says:

    We made the Washington Post! (You have go down several paragraphs to get to the place where our university gets mentioned.) This isn’t exactly the way I’d like to come to national attention, I’ll admit.

  6. Katherine Says:

    I don’t know that we’ve seen an increase in on-campus hate incidents, but we have seen some hate from the residents of the small midwestern town where my college is located. Our college president hosted a forum on the day after the election for our students & college community to voice feelings, fears, and concerns. The local newspaper sent a reporter, and since the article about it was published there have been some really angry and hateful letters to the editor from local residents, often calling out students and faculty members who spoke at the forum by name.

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