"Eliminate the Hate" campaign begins with silent demonstration

Over 60 student organizations involved in "unprecedented" grassroots campaign


More than 350 students volunteered for a silent demonstration on the steps of Old Cabell. 

Callie Collins | Cavalier Daily

The Eliminate the Hate campaign began Monday with a silent demonstration on the steps of Old Cabell Hall. The demonstration was streamed through Facebook Live, and students held hand-made posters with messages condemning hate speech. Over 350 students volunteered for 15-minutes shifts from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Eliminate the Hate campaign was organized by a coalition of student organizations after several incidents of hate speech at the University were reported. These incidents included anti-semitic graffiti at GrandMarc, anti-Muslim vandalism at Brown College and racist markings in the Kent-Dabney dorms.

Attiya Latif, third-year College student and chair of the Minority Rights Coalition, said the campaign began after a discussion between members of multicultural student organizations.

“We were concerned with what had been going on lately,” Latif said. “We knew that these events did not occur in a vacuum, and we knew that everyone was very frustrated and scared and concerned with what the University looks like right now. And so we decided then and there that we were going to have a campaign.”

The campaign’s members reached out to graduate schools and other student organizations, advertising through word of mouth and social media.

“It’s an entirely grassroots campaign. It is unprecedented in terms of how many minority organizations from both the graduate and undergraduate level have gotten together,” Latif said. “We have people from medical school programs, people from [the] Law School, people from Darden [and] undergraduate organizations from across U.Va.”

Other organizations including Student Council, the Honor Committee and the University Judiciary Committee signed onto the campaign’s extended petition, which was created because there was not enough room to include all participants in the original statement.

A Facebook page was created Friday afternoon, which was quickly shared among many students. Sam Magnes, fourth-year Batten student and chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, said it was the series of reports of hate speech which accelerated the campaign’s planning process.

“Right before we were supposed to meet with all these groups, we had Islamophobic writing on the door of two Muslim students,” Magnes said. “We also had two other incidents within 48 hours, and all of a sudden, there was no time for planning, it was time to act now. We just got involved right away and hit the ground running. Within 24 hours — less — we had a Facebook page, and gathered over 1,500 likes within a day. It just moved really quickly after that.”

Volunteers originally signed up for a listserv through Google Forms. After community members and former University students began contacting them, the campaign created another sign-up sheet volunteers could use without needing a University email address.

The silent demonstration then launched a week of advertising for Eliminate the Hate. The campaign is planning several events in the coming weeks, and will culminate with a discussion called “State of the University” at the end of the semester.

“It’s going to be a town hall on diversity issues at U.Va. and what we as students can do to look at the system, deconstruct it, see how it works and then figure out what we can do to make it better,” Latif said.

The campaign’s purpose is to show support to those who have experienced hate speech and to prevent incidents of hate speech from occurring again.

“We just want to make it clear to everyone that these incidents, they’re not just affecting one group, they’re affecting all members of our community, and we need to band together and stand up against it,” Magnes said. “There’s no reason that anyone should feel unsafe or unwelcome in our community.”

Latif said she hopes the campaign is something everyone can connect with.

“We’re just working together to try to change some things,” Latif said. “This is a campaign about everyone. If you feel ownership over this University, you should feel ownership over this campaign, essentially.”

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