Diversity Action Committee hosts hate and bias prevention workshop
December 2, 2010
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In September 2009, a Bryan Hall resident found two anonymous letters containing threatening homophobic slurs in their room. Soon afterwards, President Kent Chabotar issued a statement to the Guilford community.
“There is no room whatsoever at Guilford for persecution, oppression and harassment of individuals or groups,” said Chabotar in his statement.
Student Success Mentor and Hall Director Meg Evans and Binford Hall Head Resident Advisor Brian Daniel decided to educate themselves on ways to prevent these acts in the future.
They attended a training called “Stop the Hate, Train the Trainer” by Campus Pride, a national non-profit organization. Evans and Daniel decided to share what they learned.
“We wanted to be able to come back to campus and facilitate conversations, rather than stay angry at what had happened,” said Evans.
The Diversity Action Committee (DAC) heard that Evans and Daniel attended this training. Sherry Giles, associate professor of justice and policy studies and co-chair of DAC, said DAC asked the duo to share what they learned with the Guilford community.
On Nov. 17, 2010 Evans and Daniel held a presentation entitled “Preventing and Responding to Bias and Hate at Guilford.”
“The DAC felt that it would be important to sponsor workshops for students, staff, faculty and administrators that would help us to create a culture on campus that will prevent bias incidents and hate crimes in the future,” said Giles.
The presentation covered the differences between a hate crime and a bias incident, taught ways to prevent and respond to these types of incidences, and touched on the roots of bias and hate.
They began by teaching the audience the difference between a bias and hate crime.
“Many people, me included, assumed the (Bryan) incident was a hate crime,” said sophomore Emily Stamey. “But something being labeled a ‘bias incident’ does not detract from the horror of the event.”
In 2003, Chabotar formed the Bias Incident Group to respond to anonymous acts of bias on campus.
“The (Bias) Group addresses acts when no perpetrator can be identified: acts that are anonymous, serious, publically known, and seen as potentially threatening to an individual or group,” said Professor of Theatre Studies David Hammond, who attended the presentation.
The presentation also deconstructed the misconception that bias or hate crimes happen to strictly one group of people.
“Oftentimes, people think hate and bias are only directed to minority groups,” said Daniel. “This is not true. Everyone has potential to experience bias and hate.”
A pyramid designed by the 2003 Anti-Defamation League and Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation demonstrated the levels of hate. The levels included prejudiced attitudes, acts of prejudice, discrimination, violence, and genocide.
Prejudiced attitudes included acts such as accepting stereotypes and not challenging belittling jokes. Acts of prejudice involve name-calling and more.
Evans and Daniel want to stop hate and bias at these first steps above. They want people to confront the biased and hateful statements they hear. The presentation then moved to participating in role plays to practice ways to prevent and respond to these incidences.
They shared the slogan “Name it, Claim it, and Stop it.” This slogan combats inappropriate comments one may experience.
The “Name it” part of the slogan involved asking the person who shared the undesirable comment: “Did you just say that?” This gives the individual the power to confront the comment and not let it simply pass.
“You are responding immediately and focusing attention effectively then and there on the inappropriate comment,” said Hammond. “You also buy yourself a moment of time that gives you a chance to think on your feet and, if necessary, calm down.”
“Claim it and Stop it” means that someone explains why it is offensive to them and asks the speaker to stop. Also, the one offended has the opportunity to educate the speaker.
The presentation closed by illustrating how the Internet can be a tool to spread hate. It featured a video “Hate.com: Extremists on the Internet.”
“The Internet has created a place for people to spew hateful, bigoted, and oftentimes violent messages while being able to hide behind a blanket of anonymity,” said Evans.
Both Evans and Daniel shared their desire to give the presentation again. The audience’s survey comments, filled out after the presentation, also indicated the thirst for more events like these.
Evans read the comments to Daniel and they both smiled at the responses: “Not long enough,” “want to go more in depth,” and “interactive and relevant.”