In reaction to the hate speech prevalent at UVa this semester, students unified on grounds to launch the campaign Eliminate the Hate this week.
To kick off the movement, students organized a silent protest on the steps of Old Cabell Hall on Monday. Members of the UVa community held large signs declaring what they will not stand for on grounds. Among other statements, the signs read: “we will not stand for bigotry,” “we will not stand for discrimination,” and “we will not stand for complacency.”
Founded by students to combat the growing number of hate incidents at the university, Eliminate the Hate advocates for a safer and more inclusive community. It promotes respect and acceptance.
“I got involved with Eliminate the Hate because I knew that I couldn’t be a passive bystander,” said first-year Jessica Harris. “Too much had happened, and too little had been done.”
The hate speech began early this fall and has continued. Racial slurs were written in the first-year dorm Kent-Dabney on September 2nd. A female student walking home was called Islamophobic names and intimidated with death threats on September 29th. The corner of a GrandMarc apartment was graffitied on October 23rd with the Star of David and the word “Juden,” a derogatory term for Jews used by the Nazis. The word “terrorist” was written on the door of two Muslim students’ room in Brown College on October 30th.
Hate permeated the first three days of November. A group of first years were victims of racial prejudices, homophobic words were written on a Resident Advisor’s door in the International Residential College, and a toy monkey was found strung up outside a first-year dorm. When the toy was removed, anonymous sources complained.
Despite the negativity rampant on grounds, Eliminate the Hate is leading a positive campaign. Although its message is clear and serious, it encourages love. In a released statement of purpose, the group said: “The time for silence has passed.” The movement was built on the idea that “UVa is a home for everyone,” and now is the moment to make sure that message is spread to each member of the community.
Eliminate the Hate tabled on Tuesday and Thursday at various locations disseminating information to those walking by, asking them to write what they will not stand for on white boards, and taking their pictures with their statements.
The campaign’s message has touched UVa and spread positivity.
“Many [students] are listening to us and taking part in this movement because they know hate and hate speech are unacceptable. It’s been a call-to-action for numerous students, and many have responded in wonderfully moving ways,” said Harris.
After the election, with much of the student body distraught over its results, Eliminate the Hate hosted an open mic night Wednesday at the Amphitheater to support others in “collective healing.” Many students took to opportunity to express their emotions and thoughts about the country’s future.
The campaign has more planned for next week. Each day features a main event: a flash slam on Monday, a teach-in on Tuesday, love speech walls on Wednesday, a panel and rally on Thursday, and finally, a march at the Rotunda on Friday.
Any and all members of the UVa community are encouraged to attend and participate in the sponsored events. Although grounds has experienced acts of hate in the past, students have joined together to call for more love in the future.
For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/endhatespeechuva/.