As we enter into a new academic year, we at The Gatepost would like to take a moment to focus on what can be done to help foster an environment in which we hold one another accountable and don’t leave anyone standing alone.
Too many people on this campus and on campuses across the country have felt as though they were standing alone – whether it’s a personal struggle, an unchallenged slur shouted across the street, or a crime committed without a police report.
For many of us, last year was tough. As a community, we grappled with the reality that there were those among us – perhaps classmates, neighbors, even friends – committing hate crimes with complete anonymity.
What is perhaps most frustrating is the fact that someone on this campus must have known something about what happened, and they never spoke up.
As a community, we left too many people standing alone.
For students just joining us, we encourage you to use your voice. As a new member of the Framingham State community, you may think you have no ground to stand on.
But the moment you arrived on this campus, your choices and your actions became important to cultivating a positive and safe environment. What you do, and maybe more importantly what you don’t do, matters.
It can feel like a risk to say something when you feel uncomfortable or when you know something is wrong.
But you would never want to look for help in a crowded room and find none, so take it upon yourself never to let that happen to another person.
We need to stand up for each other. Sometimes all it takes is one person to call out sexist, racist, or ableist language for the perpetrator to understand the impact of their words. At the very least, you could be empowering someone to address a similar situation in the future.
And if, in the moment, you feel unsafe, remember you can report situations to your RA, to professors, and to campus police. Don’t let destructive or dangerous situations go unaddressed.
And maybe, in your first year or even in your senior year, you’ll realize it was you who said something wrong or ignorant or hurtful. Just know that no one has ever looked like a jerk for apologizing.
Acknowledge what you’ve done, learn from the moment, and apologize to anyone you may have hurt. Don’t just ignore it.
Take the time to educate yourself.
College may be the first time you’ve been a part of a diverse community. This is your chance to take advantage of the learning opportunities here.
For example, take a course focusing on LGBTQ+ literature. Go to a Brother2Brother meeting. Attend one of the many events the Center for Inclusive Excellence hosts. Explore the volunteer opportunities in the Framingham area.
Educating yourself is not only empowering, but it gives you the skills you need to recognize when someone is standing alone and the motivation to take action.
We hope on a campus full of academic-minded people, it won’t be hard to find that motivation.
Standing alone we are vulnerable, but standing together we are powerful.