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IU combats hate with messages of love

POSTED AT 12:49 AM ON Apr. 9, 2013  (UPDATED AT 12:50 AM ON Apr. 9, 2013)

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About 100 students gathered at Showalter Fountain on Monday to respond to graffiti, discrimination and violence on campus.

The Commission on Multicultural Understanding and incident teams came together to put on the event.

“We did an all call for Bloomington to come and show examples of how we are an inclusive community in response to hateful messages,” said Brian Morin, assistant director of First Year Experiences.

Two different reports of chalk graffiti started in late February. The first occurrence targeted Phi Gamma Delta with accusations of brothers being HIV positive. The second account was labeled with “#whitegenocide” and was reported as recently as last Thursday.

“When stuff like that happens, there is the assumption that a lot of people think that,” Morin said. “We need to counter that and say this in an inclusive community.”

Morin said it was also important to address free speech and hate speech. He said they wanted to provide the opportunity to speak their opinions.

“Free speech is free speech, but we welcome everyone,” Graduate Assistant for COMU Cameron Vakilian said. “We have a right to speak out against hateful messages.”

Morin said his passion for diversity and involvement in planning the event came from a basic love for social justice.

“It came from my love for humans where everyone feels loved and their voice has merit,” Morin said.

Graduate student Jessica Hill addressed the group and said she thinks it is important we leave space for dialogue.

“We need to respect each other enough to listen,” Hill said. “Inclusivity doesn’t mean we all have to agree.”

Madinah Luqmaan-Hernandez, teachable moment committee member and member of the COMU executive board, said she reported the second incident when she first saw it.

“People have the right to express their opinions, but then I thought about how people who saw this would really feel,” Luqmaan-Hernandez said. “We have a great, diverse group of students.”

Luqmaan-Hernandez said she wants to see acceptance and love but also wants to show people they cannot get away with degrading others.

“We have way too many people at this event for them to get away with it,” Luqmaan-Hernandez said.

After talking about free speech and voicing their opinions, people took pieces of chalk and wrote messages around campus to celebrate love, diversity and social justice. Director of Diversity Education Eric Love said he wanted them to flood the sidewalks with positive ideas.  

“We want people to be proud of who you are and love yourself,” Love said. “It only becomes an issue when you love yourself so much that you hate other people.”

 

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