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Students call for major campaign to stop hate

3:30 p.m., Nov. 2, 2005--Several student organizations have called for a campuswide campaign against hate crimes and offered their full support for such an effort. Students, their leaders and residence assistants voiced their concerns during a discussion session at the end of the “Stop the Hate March,” a University-wide awareness-raising event held on Tuesday, Nov. 1, in response to recent hate crimes on and around the Newark campus.

Waving signs that read, “Hate is not a human value” and “Stop the hate,” among others, more than 300 students marched from several locations across the campus carrying lit candles and converged on the Trabant University Center Patio after 8 p.m.

“People don’t know it exists,” Charles Apple, a senior meteorology major and residence assistant from Wilmington who was one of the organizers of the march, said of hate crimes. “We need to let people know about it.”

Incidents on the campus this fall, mostly criminal mischief, have included several instances of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti on walls and bulletin boards.

After the march, the students heard from a 23-year-old senior who was targeted with homophobic slurs and then severely beaten and seriously injured Oct. 1. The student, who suffered a fractured left eye socket, a broken nose, a scratched cornea in his right eye and permanent damage to his left eye, said he was mistaken for being gay and attacked without warning.

“I am not big on revenge; I just want something to be done to make sure that it does not happen again,” he said of the attack. “I wish I had gotten an apology. I can get over the physical scars, but, emotionally, it’s going to be tough.”

The student, who did not want his name used for fear of retribution, said he had gathered the courage to speak out about the attack in order to emphasize that hate can result in serious injury and that any person can be a victim.

After the march, which was organized by the Office of Residence Life and facilitated by several campus groups--including La Raza, SAFE (Students Advocating for Freedom and Equality) and MSN (Minority Student Network)--students met for educational and awareness-building group discussions and compiled suggestions for a more effective approach to fighting hate. HAVEN, UD’s registered student organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, and the Black Students Union also were represented at the event.

Some of the suggestions were:

  • Be active, not reactive;
  • More funding and publicity for antihate efforts;
  • Students should be willing to speak up;
  • Pay more attention to “smaller” incidents;
  • Do not allow derogatory slang to be used loosely; and
  • Work with the Newark community to educate students.
Sarah Maguire, a senior history education and women’s studies major from Newark, said the turnout is a good sign that students are willing to confront the problem and deal with it.

“The most important thing to remember is that it’s not just this semester,” Maguire said. “Since I’ve been a freshman, these kinds of incidents have been happening. Not only are we not going to accept this on campus, we are not going to accept this worldwide.”

Lovicia Newsome, a senior biology major from Brooklyn, N.Y., said the recent rash of incidents, which seem to have exploded over the past year, is a very serious matter.

“A lot of my friends don’t feel safe walking around campus,” she said. “I’m from New York, where I feel like I can walk down the street at any time, but here I feel that someone is likely to call me names and use racial slurs.”

In a letter sent to the University community Oct. 20, UD President David P. Roselle said that UD “must and will have a zero tolerance for hate. There is no place at the University of Delaware for those whose credo is meanness and whose method is intimidation. Those who engage in acts of hatred and bias-motivated threats and behavior will be confronted, prosecuted and expelled from our community.

“I urge all members of the student body, faculty, staff and professionals to join me in implementing a zero tolerance for hate. My request of you is that every incident be reported. In turn, my pledge to you is that every reported incident will be investigated, and all guilty parties will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and, when applicable, through the University's judicial systems,” Roselle wrote.

The event closed with a vocal performance of Coldplay’s “I Will Fix You,” arranged by Chris McGinley, a junior music education major from West Chester, Pa.

Article by Martin Mbugua
Photos by Kevin Quinlan

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