Students lined up Friday to knock bigoted words off the Wall of Prejudice, a wall sponsored by Pi Lambda Phi on which the student body had been invited to write offensive things they had heard directed at them or others.
The second annual Elimination of Prejudice Week, a week dedicated to educating students about how to embrace differences and increase tolerance, came to an end with the tearing down of the wall.
“We want to be more inclusive and accepting of people of different backgrounds going forward,” said Thomas Mandel, the organizer of IU’s Elimination of Prejudice Week.
The wall was set up in Dunn Meadow after a half-hour rain delay and had insults like “stupid,” “trash” and “poor,” along with many coarser slurs.
A small audience gathered in front of the wall while fraternity members taped over the studs to ensure participants didn’t hurt themselves.
Mandel introduced Kand McQueen, a professor at Indiana State University, who spoke to the audience about his experience growing up transgender in a rural area.
McQueen stressed that everyone in the audience needed to be their authentic selves and told the story of how he had come to terms with his gender identity.
He stood in front of the Wall of Prejudice and urged people not to put up metaphorical walls within themselves to survive society.
After McQueen’s speech, which was received with snaps from the audience, the audience was invited to form a line and take a shot at the wall with a hammer.
Donations for the Elimination of Prejudice Foundation were collected in a tub next to the wall and strongly encouraged.
The Elimination of Prejudice Foundation was an eventual goal of Pi Lambda Phi chapters nationwide, Mandel said, and would eventually sponsor things such as a civil rights immersion trip to the South.
McQueen made the first ceremonial hole in the wall. As more people took their turn with the hammer, the wall began to fall apart, and eventually fraternity members flipped it around to create a fresh canvas for the destruction.
Finally, the audience eschewed the hammer entirely and began to kick and rip at the wall, tore it into large chunks and left powder and small crumbs on the tarp beneath it.
“One of the things we can do as men and women and those who fall between is to cut each other some slack,” McQueen said. “Internal walls lead to external walls. Tear down your wall. Be OK with who you are.”