On Monday, February 24th, The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence hosted a Campus Community Dialogue on Hate Speech. This open forum attracted students, faculty, staff, administrators, community leaders and visiting faculty and students from Salem College in Winston-Salem. Attendees engaged in a lively discussion on hate speech and the negative impact it has on the entire campus, but particularly on students of color, students with disabilities, GLBTI+ students, religious beliefs, faculty, staff and the community at large.
I am extremely proud of the thoughtful comments and engaged participation from our students at UNCG who were in attendance. Many of the students who spoke stated they selected UNCG to engage with the robust diversity of the students they saw on their visits or heard about from friends and family members. The level of respect, consideration of others and unified concern for the well-being of our university was evident throughout the evening. Students also expressed concern for reverse discrimination on white students by their peers due to fears of being considered a racist. They also voiced their concern for the difficulties associated with how the media portrays students of color and how those perceptions cause people to be less likely to engage in conversations with people from a different culture or race. On the other hand, many students spoke passionately about their ability to engage with people and being a member of the human race as opposed to a particular race upon which society is based.
One of the major questions raised by students was “How do you engage with people from a different race or culture and begin to break down the walls that separate us?” The university must create the spaces for these conversations to occur. Some already exist in many of our classrooms, the recreation center and fields, the food courts as well as the Moran Commons and Elliott University Center. The real question at hand is “How do we participate in difficult conversations around matters of race and culture?” The Office of Multicultural Affairs offers a number of programs and services dedicated to creating the appropriate space to have these discussions. Additionally, ALIANZA (UNCG Latino Association) is hosting a series of “Border Talks” designed to break down the barriers that separate people via culture, race, religion or orientation. We would encourage our entire campus community to engage with ALIANZA to make these discussions the building blocks upon which UNCG begins to abolish the things that separate us and embrace the things that bring us together as colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters.
I would like to close with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. regarding how connected we are even though we fail to take notice. Dr. King stated in his speech delivered on the campus of Arizona State University June 3, 1964 that we are intrinsically connected throughout the world and it is an inescapable fact. The things we do here directly impact the things that are done overseas and vise-versa. “In order for me to be all that I can be, you have to be all that you can be. How can society expect the oppressed people in our society to be all that they can be when they are deprived of access to the basic human needs and access to a quality educational experience?” Therefore, in order for UNCG to be all that it could be, we (faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and the surrounding community) have to be all that we can be to ensure the legacy of this institution of higher learning.
Perhaps we should all consider the impact WE have on this university embracing our differences and commonalities and take pride in the fact that each of us individually as well as collectively have an obligation to leave the university better than we found it.
Together we can make a difference! UNCG Begins With Me!
Photo by: Wesley Brown – 3C Photography
The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence is hosting a Campus Community Dialogue on Hate Speech February 24, 2014 from 6:30-8:00pm in the Elliott University Center’s Cone Ballroom A&B. This open forum will be moderated by Dr. Omar Ali, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, African American Studies. We are inviting students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community to engage in a respectful open dialogue about hate speech. This event is supported by ALIANCA (UNCG Latino Association), BFSA (Black Faculty and Staff Association), the Division of Student Affairs (Housing and Residence Life), SGA (Student Government Association), and the Staff Senate. (See Attached Poster)