By: Sophia Bates, Contributing Writer, and Bailey Hendricks, Assistant News Editor
Student Government Association President James Mileo announced during an on-campus “Gathering for Unity” that there will be an “immediate relaunch” of #NotAtTU, Towson’s anti-hate crime and bias incident campaign, this semester.
“I’ve been working with my wonderful team, my e-board, our wonderful director of diversity and inclusion on what does that look like,” Mileo said. “Everything surrounding this campaign is education, empowerment, [and] how do we empower our students to change our campus, our nation, and our world.”
#NotAtTU officially launched on May 5, 2016, through a joint effort from the SGA and University administration. On the campaign’s website, students can directly report hate crimes and bias incidents and learn about available resources, and what to expect after submitting a report and various hate and bias examples.
The Towerlight will continue to cover the #NotAtTU relaunch, and will update this story with more information as it becomes available.
Mileo and other members of the University community gathered Aug. 29 in the Potomac Lounge to reiterate statements made following violence led by groups of white nationalists during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12, and to discuss how to create an inclusive campus climate.
Following the violence, University President Kim Schatzel released a statement saying that the TU community is determined in continuing to condemn hate and bigotry on campus.
During the “Gathering for Unity,” Schatzel said the images she saw from Charlottesville are ones she thought she would never see.
“To be able to witness on a college campus, in a city, to have folks that are parading down streets, talking racist, anti-semitic, threatening violence, in the United States of America in 2017 is something that I never thought that I would witness in my life,” Schatzel said. “That type of behavior, that type of conduct, is unacceptable to me as an American.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Deb Moriarty spoke about how administrators thought the gathering was important for kicking off the semester and what the University’s own community values and expectations are.
“I realize that we are in really challenging and complex times right now,” Moriarty said. “So, it’s hard to know what the right thing to say is, other than the fact that I think that our values are important, and I think as a community, we can create the community that we want to live in.”
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Tim Chandler noted that the administration’s goal is to guide students to address their own individual thoughts.
“Our role as academics is to encourage our students how to think, it’s not about encouraging them what to think,” Chandler said. “I would encourage us to encourage our students to make arguments, not have arguments.”
Vice President for Inclusion and Institutional Equity Leah Cox addressed the types of speech tolerated on campus.
“There’s a difference in free speech and hate speech,” Cox said. “I am hoping over time we can better identify for our community the threshold where despicable views go too far, and when words create a hostile environment.”
SGA Director of Diversity and Inclusion Russhell Ford said that when she thinks of unity, she thinks of student organizations. She said they give students a direct link to solidarity and that they help students become better leaders.
“You can look at someone who has the same interests as you, in the same organization and come together for a common cause,” Ford said.
Mileo also urged the audience to step out of their comfort zones to make change and to be an ally.
“Just because you’re uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world,” Mileo said. “It means that you’re doing something right, actually. And if you make mistakes, that’s a part of the process. We’re all learning.”
Sophomore psychology major David Cole said he would have liked to speak at the event, but the microphone was not opened up for other students to speak.
“I definitely came to the event because I wanted to see what it was going to be about as a black student on this campus,” Cole said. “I liked what everyone said. I was expecting it to be a little more aggressive. I would have liked to see a bit more of the students of color come into this.”
To reaffirm inclusion initiatives, a moment of silence on campus was recognized Aug. 30 from 12:05 p.m. to 12:06 p.m., beginning and ending with rings from the Stephens Hall bell. The moment of silence encouraged students to commit to being against all forms of bigotry, hatred, intolerance and violence, according to Schatzel.
Featured image by Kanji Takeno