Thursday, April 14, 2005

Today's "Erase the Hate" rally was very exciting and hopeful. It was wonderful to see how well students organized the rally, how energetic they were, and how wide a coalition they had brought together to protest against the recent racist and homophobic acts on the Ithaca College campus. There were speakers from the African-Latino Society, including one young man very powerfully leading chants and energizing the crowd. Michelle Berry, the Ithaca Common Council member from the second ward, who also teaches at IC, gave a poetic and encouraging speech, as did Leslyn McBean Claybourn, one of the representatives on the Tompkins County Legislature. Amy Liu, from the Asian Culture Club, gave a powerful speech against racism. Representatives from prism, the student LGBT group, and from Created Equal, the gay-straight alliance, spoke very well. A student from Hillel spoke up about an incident that happened to her last semester, when a swastika was written on her door (an incident I hadn't heard about before). The student trustee (on the Board of Trustees), spoke out, as did the president of the student government, a gay man. There were many others as well. Peggy Williams, IC president, spoke very powerfully (I keep using that word, but it fits) against racism, homophobia, and other forms of xenophobia that destroy community - speaking directly and angrily to the perpetrators and telling them that there was no place in the IC community for hateful acts like these. She said that she wished she were speaking to them in her office and telling them directly what she thought of their acts. About 500 people came to the rally - mostly students, but also many staff and faculty, as well as deans and other administrators. I was very happy to see the seriousness of the student speakers (the president of the Caribbean Student Association was particularly eloquent) and their determination. Many people were wearing white t-shirts with slogans written on them, or holding up the student newspaper, which was published today - the entire back page was a very elegantly designed "Erase the Hate" poster.

I hope that the students remain active and involved, because I think that the administration is behind them, from the president on down, and that if they keep on pushing, there will be real change on this campus.

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