Over the weekend, not one, but two hate crimes occured in Larned Hall. Both of these incidents are being investigated by campus police and local authorities.
We at The Gatepost condemn the individual or individuals who committed this hate crime and hope the persons responsible are discovered as soon as possible.
In addition to the ongoing investigation, the University hosted a forum on Monday in which many students shared useful suggestions to combat ignorance and racism at FSU.
Many students feel targeted on a regular basis and believe the University isn’t doing enough to ensure their safety. Students of color stood on the ramps leading up to the stage during the forum – one student informed the audience many chose to do so because they felt unsafe in the current campus climate.
This needs to change.
Although the University has spearheaded programs promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the 2016 Black Lives Matter teach-in, there is a lack of consistent campus-wide engagement for education regarding inclusivity. After the success of the BLM teach-in, there was talk of it returning.
Almost two years later and radio silence.
In a bizarre and inappropriate move during the forum, administrators used the occasion to pat themselves on the back regarding previous diversity initiatives, including the BLM teach-in.
The Gatepost sees this as a problem for two reasons. First, the University shouldn’t capitalize on highlighting FSU’s past diversity accomplishments when a large percentage of students don’t feel safe at FSU today. Second, as one student pointed out, half of the student body was not here in 2016 when the teach-in occured.
University administrators shouldn’t be congratulating themselves for past successes while simultaneously trying to quell the fears of hundreds of students. Instead, they should be listening to the students suggestions and offering concrete solutions.
While administrators offered little-to-no explanation of a next step, students weren’t afraid to step up to the mic and share hard truths with them.
Many students noted that professors neglected to address the hate crimes in class. Like many students, we at The Gatepost, believe it is essential professors show their support during a time when much of the school population feels unsafe and targeted.
The forum occurred during the campus-wide free block. Why wasn’t every single professor in attendance?
Additionally, students offered useful suggestions. One student suggested the University create a mandatory online training program which students are educated about bias and racism. Another suggested creating a more diverse curriculum in which students aren’t simply learning about “old white men and their theories.”
A major takeaway from these events is that we must all be held accountable for what occured over the weekend. Incidents like these only happen when a community accepts racism and prejudice.
In the last year, the United States has seen a culture change. White supremacists and nazis alike have felt emboldened by the Trump presidency and are spewing hateful and dangerous rhetoric under the guise of “free speech.”
What seems to be misunderstood by many, and perhaps the perpetrators of the recent hate crimes, is that the First Amendment doesn’t protect hate speech – hate speech such as the words scrawled on the dorm room in Larned.
We strongly urge the administrators to listen to what was said on Monday and enact change. We urge students around campus to stop accepting casual racism from their friends – speak up for those who historically were silenced.