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Students share their voices about hate crimes on campus

Simren Shah

Associate Features Editor

Lately the news has been filled with headlines about mass shootings, including a shooting that occurred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Recently, an email was sent to Millersville students which informed them of hate speech depicted in bathrooms on campus. The messages written were “I hate Jews” and “I hate black people.” When interviewed, four students expressed concern about the current events both on and off campus.

 

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Faith Stoughton, a senior here at Millersville University, said “…I think that just having all this hate speech just doesn’t help. It just brings more fear into a community that doesn’t need it.” Stoughton had received the email from the school like most other students and communicated her disgust about the dehumanization of hate speech. She suggested that it should result in expulsion from the institution. She believes there is a correlation between hate speech and gun violence “not in all cases, but I would say many cases.” She highlighted the danger of rage and gun access combined. Stoughton believes that “by talking about [gun violence] in general is a good start, but we need to work on policies together as a community to try and, y’know, help each other and solve as many issues as we can. We can’t solve the problem, we can’t eradicate it completely, but I know that by working together and talking it out we can change things.”

 

Harley Hudoka also offered her thoughts pertaining to hate speech on campus and gun violence off campus. Like Stoughton, Hudoka was also aware of current events and provided input on the subjects. “I think that it’s actually very horrible to know someone around us feels that way and just knowing that the shooting did happen in Pittsburg it could easily be spread and it can affect our community and school.” Despite the hate, Hudoka attested that she felt safe on campus and expressed her appreciation of the campus police. She suggested that metal detectors be implemented in more places as a preventive measure. As for the on-campus hate, Hudoka described it as “a very crucial thing” that “shouldn’t be let off easy.”

 

Another student, Dante Harvey, opened up about his concerns. Although Harvey did not read the email he received from the university’s president, he heard others talking about the hate speech. He portrayed hate speech as “something that happens every so often that I don’t let it affect me.” Harvey commented on the anonymity of the students behind the hate speech. “A lot of times things like that like saying something in the bathroom shows that people aren’t really as confident enough to say it so they will go into the bathroom stall or bathroom where no one will be in the room and they can lock it and then walk out.” Harvey stated that racism cannot be punished away, so spreading social awareness would be more impactful in solving the issue. Having recently completed a paper on gun violence for one of his classes, he was able to share some thoughts on that topic as well. He supported further gun regulations including stricter laws and screenings.

 

Dylan Hyer, also a student, offered the same perspective as his peers on the hate speech on campus. When asked how he felt about the hateful messages he stated he felt sick to his stomach. Similar to the other students, he pushed the need for campus awareness against hate. As a gun owner, Hyer is pro-gun, but he also described himself as pro-reform. His views on gun reform were altered by recent acts of violence. “I used to be all for guns and everything, but with all this going on recently it’s kinda just steered me towards the other side of it. But I also believe that if we take away guns completely these things will still happen.” He explained that he does not see the need for anyone to have a semi-automatic weapon in their home, but also mentioned that he has a gun because he hunts. He detailed the process he underwent to become a gun owner. First, a background check was initiated followed by a hunter safety course to obtain his hunting license.

 

Each student spoke of a desire to see change in their community and offered different perspectives on the situations. The question that remains is what should happen next?