Peace Rally held in response to hate speech on campus

11/22/16 - Dr. Williams addressed students and facility gathered for a peace rally prompted by hate speech on campus. Photo credit: Emily Lazear

A peace rally was held this afternoon at MCTC on the 2nd floor of the T-plaza by Green Dot, the Student Senate and the MCTC Diversity office.

Over 60 students and faculty attended the peace rally with topics ranging from hate speech, inclusiveness, the Dakota Access Pipeline and the conversation about Islam.

The rally is in response to multiple reported incidents of hate speech at MCTC directed at students and faculty. The most high profile being one that was mentioned in an email sent on Nov. 16 by Dr. Jay Williams, the Interim Executive Director of Diversity at MCTC, that reads in part, “On Tuesday, November 8th an individual, neither enrolled in nor employed at our campus, slid a hand written note under an outer office door for one of our employees. The note urges the employee and the employee’s friends to leave the United States and return to North Africa. The signature line reads “The Confederate States of America.”

This incident was reported to Public Safety and the Minneapolis Police Department was involved. The perpetrator has been added to the FBI’s watch list and they are not allowed on the MCTC campus throughout the next year.

According to Jacquelyn Roosevelt, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the Student Senate, about 10 incidents have been reported to the Student Senate regarding hate speech and harassment of students. Dr. Williams said he has personally dealt with four incidents and Public Safety has confirmed one incident on campus. Supervisors for Public Safety were not available for comment.

Reporting through proper channels is being encouraged according to an email sent on Nov. 22 from Dr. Williams. The email was signed by the Student Senate Executive Board, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and Green Dot, “If you experience or witness bullying, intimidation, hate speech, or threats, please report these to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities or Public Safety. Reporting this behavior is the only way we can address it. It is difficult to take effective action to address these issues of campus climate with only anonymous reports.”

The conversation surrounding the election has been divisive and Professor Palombo, a teacher at MCTC, offered some insight into how to reshape the conversation, “If the only conversation is about terrorism…you make it easier to discriminate against Muslim students.”

While the rally is in response to hate speech and harassment directed at what has been mostly people of the Muslim faith, Dr. Williams said, “[He] wants this to be an inclusive space for all. If you voted for Donald Trump, if you voted for Hillary Clinton, if you voted for Jill Stein, we have to come together.”

An inclusive space is also something the Student Senate is on board with. Charles Karter, Director of Health and Sustainability for the Student Senate, said, “[We want to] work with the administration to create a more inclusive atmosphere…we’re trying to teach teachers to present their classes to be inclusive and accept diverse cultures.”

To report incidents of hate speech or harassment you can call Public Safety at 612-659-6900 or stop by their desk on the 2nd floor of the T-plaza by the parking garages. You can also contact The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities by phone at 612-200-5281 by email at studentcomplaints@minneapolis.edu or stop by their offices at T.2300.

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