Confronting Hate on Campus

The past few weeks have been really hard here at Duke; there have been multiple hate-crimes committed over the past month in extremely public spaces on campus. After several of them, President Price sent out an email recognizing their occurrence, acknowledging their impact on our Duke community and addressing his goals for the future. I am obviously not privy to the discussion on the administrative side of the University, but I am very well aware of student sentiment, discussion and drive to take action. I have had the opportunity to take part in some incredible conversations about how to address the hate-crimes and underlying racism that is so obviously present on campus, and here are just a few of the takeaways that I feel to be most meaningful.

First, it is okay to reach out to your friends and check in on them. If these friends identify with one of the groups that faced victimization or was targeted, this may be of utmost importance. All members of the Duke community should feel accepted, included, loved and respected. Spreading this support and respect in these times of need is the first step to creating a stronger, kinder community here at Duke. First takeaway: reach out to your friends and loved ones here to make sure they know they are valued on campus, and more importantly, in this world.

Second, policy is being put into place, whatever that may look like in the future. A big criticism of Duke these past few weeks has been how administrators seemed hesitant to acknowledge or respond to the crimes. However, it appears that not only is Duke administration acknowledging the horrible events, but they are currently working on creating and enforcing policy to confront hate and racism among members of our university community. Second takeaway: the University administration is not blind to the events that have been occurring on campus.

Third, please, please do not shy away from this topic or from discussing it in your classes with your peers, professors, clubs, organizations and friends. No one should have the privilege to ignore the pain and hurt that so many members of our campus community are suffering  every day, and, furthermore, no one should ever become desensitized to such incredible acts of hate and cruelty. Third takeaway: everyone should be frequently talking about how to confront these issues, not only the individuals who are personally affected by them.

I hope that these takeaways can help you in navigating through your feelings about these past few emotional weeks. They certainly helped me.