Thursday, September 24, 2020

U should not have to put up with hate crimes

I’ve seen “Revenge of the Nerds” and “PCU” - I know there’s a lot of “basic crap that freshmen deal with in college,” as Jennifer Carboni, director of Bailey and Bryan halls, said in The State News (“Residents react to lewd slurs scrawled through halls ,”SN 9/25).

But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the “freshman crap” I should be anticipating would include the threat of rape.

I refer to the malicious vandalism of Brody Complex on Sept. 16, when an unknown party marked the halls with race- and gender-related slurs like “Rape is sex: Deal with it.”

Carboni was quoted as saying, “It’s not any kind of intolerance,” ignoring it as a hate crime.

Well, I beg to differ with Carboni, and so does Merriam-Webster: The 2000 edition dictionary’s definition of hate crime accurately describes the situation as “any of various crimes (as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member of a group (as one based on color, creed, gender or sexual orientation).” I just don’t understand how Carboni and other officials can ignore the attack as a hate crime. The vandals defaced the property of Brody Complex residence halls, targeting individuals based on race and gender by scrawling pictures and messages depicting violence.

Officials are denying the vandalism as a hate crime because they say it was not a direct assault on a certain group - this is ludicrous. Because a single individual’s property was not vandalized, they don’t view the three floors of depicted hate and violence as a crime.

Again, the system is practicing punitive instead of preventative law - until a woman is actually raped, or a person of color beaten outside of Bailey Hall, officials ignore the problem by giving it other names.

Carboni, for instance, justifies her self-deluding disregard of the vandalism as a hate crime by dismissing it as immature “pranking.” Excuse me, but a prank is loosening the cap on a ketchup bottle, not threatening hall residents with rape and violence. I live in a dorm far from Brody, and this is no prank to me. I feel violated and unsafe and angry that not many students around me even know this happened. I can only imagine how the residents - especially freshmen, new to this environment - feel about this.

I am especially disappointed in Carboni’s comments because she is a director of residence halls, an authority figure responsible for the safety of students and I think her lack of serious attention to this attack is dangerous.

But Carboni and other officials should not be pointed out as scapegoats. We, the student body and members of the community, are all to blame for allowing this type of behavior to occur and to continue.

Students in the article alluded to the vandalism as a prank, and called it an act of immaturity. Immaturity implies a lack of emotional growth, as if the vandals are just being silly or childlike, and this violent and destructive behavior is something they can outgrow. This, too, is an example of our society shrugging its shoulders, passively hoping the problem goes away by itself. At no point in emotional or intellectual growth should one think that rape and violence are acceptable. It’s not immaturity - it’s hate and intolerance.

Perhaps the most disheartening remark made was by Sean Carney, a studio art freshman who said, “It’s happened to everybody.” What a sad commentary - that “everybody” has been subject to hate, violence and discrimination.

Why is this? And why should we put up with it?

We call it immaturity, people looking for kicks, a common problem among freshmen and an issue exclusively for the residents directly affected. But it is this avoidance of the severity of violence and it’s unnamed status as a hate crime that supports the continuance of such acts. We are ignoring the consequences that attacks like these have on all of us as members of society. We remain passive and this sends the message to the violent hate-mongers that we don’t want to deal with these issues and therefore can do little to prevent them from striking again.

Should we not, as men and women, students, faculty and community members, people of all colors, creeds and sexual orientations, say, “No. We don’t want to put up with this. We will not dismiss this, we recognize this as hate and violence toward every member of society and we will not tolerate it.”

Patrick Walker, Bailey Hall’s government president and computer science sophomore, who organized a town hall meeting to discuss the incident, said he thinks this sort of attack could easily happen again. If and when it does, I urge everyone to show more support. People need to organize a large group of friends to attend a meeting about it, write letters to hall directors and the media, chalk sidewalks and put up fliers declaring MSU’s dedication to making our campus a hate-free zone. In short, do something to take an active role in trying to stop hate crimes and violence within our community.

Dottie Boyce, a State News copy editor, can be reached at boycedor@msu.edu.

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