Eliminate the Hate Campaign seeks to end hate speech at U.Va.

Week-long events serve to show solidarity, create community

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Students gather in a silent protest

Callie Collins | Cavalier Daily

This week, the Eliminate the Hate campaign will host daily events to provide the University community with opportunities for education and solidarity in response to the incidents of hate speech that have occurred this fall.

“For the minority community, I think this is an opportunity to come together in solidarity and remind ourselves that we’re not alone,” Jack Chellman, third-year College student and Queer Student Union president, said. “The acts of hatred and bigotry…affect all minority communities at U.Va, and we all care about each other and each other’s well being.”

Chellman hopes the events will also be an opportunity for the University community to come together and be united.

“It’s easy to commit an act of hatred anonymously, but that does not mean that you diminish our agency as a group,” Chellman said. "While these incidents sting, we are still here and still proud of who we are.”

“My biggest hope is that the community in general views this as not a bunch of organizations coming together, but as a bunch of human beings who care about the safety and inclusivity of students on grounds…as an issue that affects the University community and U.Va. culture,” Priyal Gandhi, fourth-year College student and Indian Student Association President, said. “[This isn’t] just a small group of students who cares about another small group of students. I hope this combats the complacency that a lot of us have.”

Third-year Engineering student and ETH publicity committee member Sabreena Abedin spoke to the importance of unity in response to these crimes.

“We want to make sure everyone understands that this is a non-partisan event,” Abedin said. “We aren’t trying to mobilize troops against some cause or candidate, just trying to make sure everyone feels included, [especially] if they are scared to voice their opinion…to make sure they understand that they also have rights, and to unify the community as a whole rather than split it further apart.”

Up first, today’s Flash Slam at Old Cabell will be an opportunity for student speakers to share their experiences through speeches, spoken word poetry, and readings of anonymously submitted work. On Tuesday, there will be a teach-in at Old Cabell.

“It will be professors who can come and do small flash seminars and talk about all sorts of things related to this: the history of hate speech [and] minority oppression in the U.S.,” Gandhi said. “[An] easy way to get involved is to stop by, even for a few minutes. Hopefully it’s an educational way to address things going on around U.Va.”

The goal of the teach-in is to provide information to people about what their rights are, and how to combat hate speech when it occurs.

“[We] hope people come out and take away tangible things…[otherwise] it doesn’t change the culture, really,” Abedin said.

Second-year College student Francesca Callicotte serves as committee chair for Wednesday’s Love Speech Wall event.

“We wanted a visual representation for students on grounds to show…that we as individuals at this University stand in solidarity…with all of the communities that have been subject to hate speech, [and] that love is a constant force on this campus,” Callicotte said.

The event will feature walls at various locations on Grounds on which students can write messages of positivity and love.

“What I really hope we get out of it as a community, even though it feels now the world is weighing down on us, that hatred seems to be this monster of its own…[is] to know there are people out there who believe in the power of standing together, of friendship, of kindness, of love.”

A “Where Do We Go From Here” discussion will follow on Thursday.

“‘Where Do We Go From Here’ [is] a dialogue capstone related to the week of events,” third-year College student and event committee chair Nojan Rostami said. “[It’s] a way of synthesizing what’s been going on and learning about resources on grounds, [including] people from CAPS [and] people from UJC.”

The week will culminate with an Occupy the Rotunda rally on Friday.

“Occupy the Rotunda is going to be a really powerful way to end the week and a reminder that this is something students are taking very seriously,” Chellman said.

Gandhi encourages students to participate as much as they can.

“I would want to remind students that if you come out to an event, even if it’s for five or ten minutes,” Ghandi said. “If you take the time even on a grassroots level to discuss the issues with your friends…this thing will seem more real to you, this thing will seem more relevant to your life. I would say there’s no need to be scared, being uncomfortable is a good thing, going out of your comfort zone is a good thing.”

Callicotte hopes the week will make obvious to victims of these incidents that the University stands behind them.

“I hope that everyone…gets the sense that there are people here for them, and that we will always be willing to create a safe space,” Callicotte said. “I’m really hoping that people realize we need to…be more forward and create a University that will be forever accepting.” 

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