Thursday, April 14, 2005

Erase the Hate! A new beginning at Ithaca College


This afternoon, I was one of more than 500 students, faculty and administrators who joined together around the Free Speech rock to take a stand against the ignorance, racism and hatred that has characterized a series of events at Ithaca College in the past few weeks. President Peggy Williams was clearly livid -- LIVID -- about the events and the cowardice they represent. And she was far from the only one.

But underlying that fury and that outrage emerged a new energy and determination to fight discrimination and hatred wherever they appear. It was a day of hope as much as a day of anger.

One of the most compelling speakers today was a student named Joseph Gaskins, who stood before the crowd and spoke with dignity, grace and integrity -- not just about the wrongs of yesterday, but about the hopes of tomorrow. He announced a new collaboration between faculty and students to address the issues that recent events have raised -- and I encourage you, all of you, to become involved and to dedicate your energy and your talent to this most-important cause.

I asked Joseph if I could have permission to republish his remarks here. He has graciously agreed. And I present them to you because I believe that it is this kind of intelligence, resourcefulness, and clarity of thought that prepares us -- enables and empowers us -- to be the best we can be:

Today we are presented with a choice, given the opportunity to be unequivocal in our decision and unmovable in our belief. It is simple. This is as black and white as the world will ever be: We can stand silent in the face of our challenge, or we can counter the actions of a few with action true to our cause and rife with purpose and clear objectives.

Those who resort to scribbling hateful sentiments on walls like cave men under the veil of night are not our greatest enemies, nor are the cowards that stole the gay pride flag, a symbol of strength and unity in the face of societal indifference. Rather, we must now fend off apathy, apathy borne out of the illusion of futility, the predilection that nothing can be done to change our present condition.

Specifically, these most recent incidents are markers, signifiers of a deeper, farther reaching dilemma that we as students, scholars, and members of this assemblage of minds must take steps in our every day lives to unravel.

This rally is not an end in itself, but rather the means to encourage political and intellectual reinvigoration, materialized not by the actions or policy of the administration, not by the faculty, but by us, the students.

We must go far beyond this rally, eradicating our internal prejudices and re-evaluating our behavior so as not to perpetuate the conditions that enable the ignorant and the bigoted to affect our surroundings, and to insure that they know that we will not stand for their kind in our community.

It is with this in mind that I will take this opportunity to announce a fresh initiative between the faculty and student body. A forum, coupling these two entities, has been created to systematically understand, and identify the arenas, the institutional processes, structures and relationships that foster or create feelings of alienation among students. The hope is to provide concrete evidence, and solutions to the broader, subtler predicament that minority students, face here at Ithaca College, something that has yet to be done.

The challenge is this, colleagues: with every opportunity, make your voice heard for whatever cause. Engage, defend, challenge, speak up, and do not let silence strangle this new movement for change. Y

ou need not bang down the doors of the administration; one can affect change in our everyday surroundings, our dorms, as scholars in classrooms, and with friends. Be committed, and change will come.

It will not be easy, it will not come quickly, but it will come.


Anonymous Adam Shepherd said...

thanks to the Park people that I saw at the rally today, Dean Lynch, Dr. Mansfield-Richardson, Matt Fee, Professor Lee, and anyone else that was there that I didn't see. It's very important that everyone be behind this, because hate affects all of us.

2:30 AM  

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