EDITORIAL: Campus no space for hate

Signs+posted+on+windows+and+doors+at+Syracuse+University+display+anti-racism+expressions%2C+Thursday%2C+Nov.+21%2C+2019%2C+in+Syracuse%2C+N.Y.+Students+describe+fear+and+anxiety+as+reports+of+racist+graffiti+and+vandalism+add+up.+For+many%2C+next+week%E2%80%99s+Thanksgiving+break+can%E2%80%99t+come+soon+enough+after+day-after-day+reports.

Carolyn Thompson | Associated Press

Signs posted on windows and doors at Syracuse University display anti-racism expressions, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Syracuse, N.Y. Students describe fear and anxiety as reports of racist graffiti and vandalism add up. For many, next week’s Thanksgiving break can’t come soon enough after day-after-day reports.

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A college campus is a space that thrives off of a vast, broad range of social, cultural and political opinions encouraging passionate, intellectual and constant debate; however, we must make ourselves abundantly clear: our campus is no space for hate.

Last week, students in Smith Hall discovered a disgusting anti-Semitic message that had been written in large, bright yellow letters inside a men’s bathroom stall in addition to two other instances of bigoted graffiti that were found in bathrooms earlier in the semester. A similar incident also occurred in December last year in Harris Hall.

If Marshall University students, staff and administration are serious about fostering a safe and productive learning environment for everyone, each of these incidents—now and moving forward—must be thoroughly investigated and condemned with utmost priority.

With hate crimes on the rise across the country and particularly on college campuses, sometimes culminating in mass student outrage and protests such as the ones that occurred throughout November and December last year at Syracuse University in response to a 13-day period during which there were 12 cases of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti found on and around campus, instances of such blatant and bigoted hatred such as the recent incident in Smith Hall must not be minimized.

Even just one instance of such public prejudice can often cause a ripple effect in the confidence of racists and other bigots, even perhaps inspiring similarly gross and unwarranted feelings, ideas and actions in the hearts and minds of others who may have otherwise remained innocent.

Furthermore, it only takes one instance of hatred—however secretive, however underreported—to strike genuine fear in the hearts and minds of others who may feel at risk, and particularly minority groups which are often the targets of such hatred.

This is precisely why it is imperative, essential that Marshall and all its students and staff and administrators who seriously stand for the values the university claims to represent—to be a judicious, civil, safe and pluralistic community—consider it a top priority to condemn and prevent any instances of public bigotry.

To be clear, the person(s) responsible for this most recent repulsive instance of hatred—and those responsible for similar instances in the past and in the future—should be found and held accountable for their actions.

When it comes to combatting racism, xenophobia and other forms of bigotry and hatred, there is simply no space for equivocation; otherwise we as a community, as a people living in the 21st century, risk regressing centuries back in time, erasing much of the most substantial progress we have made collectively rather than truly standing for and promoting genuine progress and a path toward a more just future and a more equitable world for all living beings.