Stop the Hate focuses on campus hate crimes and intolerance

The campaign will include a workshop, petitions and other special programs.

Anna Weggel

To curb a recent surge of hate crimes on campus, various student groups have organized a Stop the Hate campaign, which starts today.

The purpose is to address intolerance around campus through special programs and petitioning throughout the week, group members said.

Interfaith Student Partnership officer Christie Berkseth said one of the big problems with hate crimes is they are often underreported.

“If there’s graffiti that’s offensive to somebody, it might be cleaned up before it’s even reported,” she said. “People don’t realize that these things are going on.”

The main event of the week is called 10 Ways to Fight Hate on Campus, a free workshop given by the Southern Poverty Law Center that will give the University community tools to combat hate on campus, Berkseth said.

The workshop is based on an evaluation of the University done by an expert from the center. The expert will take that evaluation and customize an action plan detailing how the University community can address hate around campus, Berkseth said.

Lutheran Student Movement President Leslie Onan said that she will be organizing a petition around campus throughout the week and will encourage students to sign it.

The petition states those who sign it will do their part to stop hate crimes on campus.

Onan said she hopes the week’s activities will let people know hate crimes are not acceptable.

“Just the fact that people don’t even realize hate crimes are happening is a big problem,” she said. “With our program on Wednesday Ö hopefully, we will be able to learn something that will be able (to) work towards stopping hate crimes.”

Onan said it sometimes helps for people to call attention to the fact that hurtful words are not acceptable. She said people often shrug off such comments.

“The most important thing is just to not tolerate it,” she said. “Even the little things are hateful, and hopefully by stopping that, we can stop actual crimes.”

Greg Hestness, University police chief and assistant vice president for the Department of Public Safety, said the University Police Department supports the campaign.

“Any way we can support is certainly compatible to our mission,” he said.

Hestness said he realizes stopping hate crimes isn’t on students’ minds often, but having discussion raises students’ consciousness and helps challenge discriminatory attitudes.

“It’s as simple as personal things,” he said. “If somebody is expressing hateful, biased ideas, it’s easiest just to go along silently and ignore it.”

Hestness said he advises students to respectfully challenge such opinions.

Groups participating in the event include the Interfaith Student Partnership; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Programs Office, Episcopal Student Association; Hillel, the Jewish student center; Coalition for Respectful U; GLBTA Network, Lutheran Student Movement; Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists; Students Today, Leaders Forever; Disabled Student Cultural Center; Queer Student Cultural Center and Residence Hall Association.