March Against Hate combats campus negativity

March Against Hate – – Produced by Dan Bauer by AlleghenyCampus

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Dan Bauer contributed reporting.

CODY MILLER/The CampusOver 330 students attended the March Against hate Wednesday night.

It’s 35 degrees outside and Blair Hartman, ’14, is cold. She’s tired too—she was up at 3 a.m. writing the speech she’s about to give to a gathering of at least 330 students, maybe more, gathered in front of Bentley Hall.

She climbs the stairs and turns to face the crowd.

“I don’t know much about hate, I’ll be honest,” she begins, speaking to the crowd without a megaphone. “But I do know a lot about love.”

Love is a fitting topic for Hartman to start with, considering the students and faculty surrounding Bentley are gathered for the March Against Hate. The march was organized by Q’nA and nine other diversity organizations as a response to the hate crimes that occurred on campus over the past month.

“We wanted to address [the hate crimes] both quickly, before Spring Break, so everyone knew it was a priority for us, and also in a way that would allow people to channel any feelings that they wanted to hash out in a more loud way,” said Annie Krol, ’12, vice president of Q’nA

Krol explained that, while Q’nA plan to hold discussions on the negative events sometime in the future, the march offered minority or marginalized groups on campus the opportunity to make their voices heard.

“When you’re doing a march, it doesn’t matter if someone’s trying to silence you or intimidate you because you can yell it,” she said.

CODY MILLER/The CampusClay Grego, '13, spoke to marchers, telling anyone who couldn't commit to respecting the community that "you’ll find that the nearest exits to the highway extend right off Park Avenue."

The march began at 8 p.m. at the Gator Quad and snaked throughout campus, ending with a rally and various speakers at Bentley Hall. ASG President Shane Downing, ’11, spoke, imploring students to continue the march against hate “until every corner of this campus is a safe haven for our friends and peers.” Clay Grego, ’13, president of the Friendly Association of Multicultural Identifying LGBTQ Youth, invited students to “slow down,” “acknowledge the space” and “love the space” around them.

“I invite you to speak out when you see a community member not acting in solidarity,” he said, asking students to “have this accountability with Alleghenians you do and don’t know.”

Professor of Political Science Sharon Wesoky came out with her husband, Associate Director of Career Services Jim Fitch, to show solidarity. She also said she hoped there would be accountability for the hate crimes that have occurred on campus.

“To be honest, I would like to see the perpetrator of these incidents identified,” she said. “Not to have them publicly shamed […] but for people to know there’s repercussions for things like this.”

Although the culprits of the hate crimes have not yet been found, Joe DiChristina, dean of students, confirmed that the investigation is still ongoing. Christina, who was also in attendance at the march, said he is working with a committee to revise the college’s policy against Discriminatory and Sexual Harassment to be more responsive to the college community’s interest in remaining informed.

“In this policy, we’ve talked about the importance of reporting, the importance of investigation, the importance of giving information and knowledge to the community so that people […] are aware,” he said.

DiChristina added that the administration hopes to bring in a speaker before the end of the year to foster discussion surrounding the sense of community on campus.

The march ended just as it began—loudly. Before the hundreds of students disbanded, Grego led them in a chant he had crafted especially for this occasion.

“Everywhere we go…people wanna know…who we are….so we tell them…”

The marchers could be heard all the way from North Main street as they swelled to a roaring finale:

“We are Allegheny…a strong community….and if you are a hater…you shouldn’t be a Gator!”