Staff Ed: hate speech has no place on this, or any, campus
By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS STAFF
On Feb. 15, 2017, an article published by The Blue & Gray Press shook the UMW campus, alerting students to an event that has called our safety and sense of community into question.
A hateful note of the Nazi / anti-LGBTQ variety was found on campus by a student and later reported to the administration.
In the days following the initial communication between the student and administrative officials, a formal response letter was issued by UMW’s Vice President for Student Affairs, Juliette Landphair, addressing the steps being taken by the administration as well as the police and FBI.
UMW President, Troy Paino, responded via video message letting the UMW community know, “there is an ongoing investigation into the matter… this note is contrary to everything that UMW stands for as reflected in our statement of values.”
“The Values that Unite Us,” as listed on UMW’s website, include integrity, dignity and respect, diversity, intellectual inquiry, responsibility and leadership. The note and the ideals it supports do not align with our values as an institution, and the administration is currently working to get to the bottom of the problem.
We are grateful to the administration for their dedication to this community and their efforts to openly discuss the current campus climate with us. They are putting the time in to help fix the problem, but they cannot do it alone. There is a greater issue here – one that exists outside the bounds of College Avenue and Sunken Road. It is an issue of ignorance, hatred and bigotry.
The administration can respond with videos and letters condemning it all they want, but headway can only be made with students’ cooperation.
By striving to exemplify UMW’s values in our every day lives, actively teaching each other how we are meant to be treated and refusing to put up with intolerance, we can strengthen our campus community and, by extension, the greater world community.
We at The Blue & Gray Press do not condone anti-Semitic or anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Hate speech and Nazi symbolism have no place on our campus – neither lends to a comfortable or safe environment, but instead to the heightening of animosity and the disruption of learning.
Fingers have been pointed and character called into question, so instead of letting the situation heighten, let us remember that we are all here for the same reason: learning. This unfortunate event has provided us with an opportunity to learn, simply taking a more social, hands-on form.
We are poised to come out of this learning experience as a unified and cohesive community, confident in our administration’s ability provide reinforcement and sure of our duty to set a positive tone on campus.
We have learned that when members of our community are targeted in a way that runs counter to and disparages the values we hold dear, it is our job to stand with one another in solidarity, provide support and help rebuild the sense of community for which UMW is known.