Stanfield: CSU don’t wait “4 H8” this upcoming year

Arisson Stanfield

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Last March, CSU held an event called “CSUnite: No Place for Hate,” which was a part of its larger “No Place 4 H8” campaign. The initiative aims to combat the rising presence of “bias related incidents” on campus by spreading a message of inclusivity.

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Moving into the fall semester, CSU should seriously rethink this campaign and other related events and merchandising. The problem with this program is not in the intentions of those who put it together, but the fact that it plays to the lowest common denominator, that we should expect more from those who seek to call themselves ‘allies’ to marginalized communities.

The idea of fighting hatred with love is an ancient one and can be a powerful reminder that sometimes all the world needs is a little kindness. Sometimes.

More often than not the world needs action to change. When Dr. Martin Luther King wanted to see a change in civil rights he aided in the foundation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. When the feminists of the 70’s and 80’s recognized that survivors of sexual assault were not being taken seriously in court and society at large, they established the first rape crisis centers outfitted with 24-hour hotlines to assist victims.

These people took action. These people went into the world and created the change they wanted to see. What they did not do was pat themselves on the back for creating catchy slogans and proceed to commercialize their movement.

The fact is, everyone with any sense knows that hating other people for factors they cannot change is bad. The people who disagree with this sentiment will no sooner be swayed by posters and t-shirts than you would become convinced to join the KKK with a witty hashtag.

You cannot market racism away no matter how trendy you get.

People have always been aware of the fact that there are monsters among us. As a result, we have tried our hardest to discover how to stop them. You can stop a vampire with garlic. You can kill a werewolf with a silver bullet. Frankenstein is afraid of fire and if we have learned anything from “The Wizard of Oz” its that even the most powerful witches will fold under pressure.

But how do we stop the real monsters we can’t see? How do we fight the evil inside of someone? The weapon CSU has chosen is a slogan, a sound bite, a meme—and thus far no evidence has been presented to show that campaigns like this lead to any real substantive change.

So what can the university do about the racism of its students? The short answer: nothing.

Campaigns like “No Place 4 H8te”  may make people feel as though they are making a difference in the lives of marginalized communities but they only offer lip service.

Campaigns like this may make people feel as though they are making a difference in the lives of marginalized communities, but they only offer lip service. CSU will not reduce your tuition to offset the emotional cost of racial battle fatigue, it will not teach you to defend yourself, it will not provide a safe place for you to learn without having to face the prejudice of your peers and it cannot do so.

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So a better question is, “What can we do about racism on campus?” At least one option comes to mind: Do not wait for help.

If this campaign is indicative at all of what students will get when they depend on administration to protect them from discrimination in response, it will be too little too late. As someone who has worked inside the department of Residence Life for the past two years and as someone who has been on this campus since 2012, I can say that I’ve learned one thing we shouldn’t do: expect the world to change for us.

So when school begins this fall, let us endeavor instead to take care of one another. Let us invest in our peers and make ourselves knowledgeable about the resources we have available. Let us know our history and know our worth. When they bark, we should bark back.

If we have to start a campaign, we should build it around education or actual change in our community. We are here for a marathon, not a sprint. Let us change what we can, let us take our privilege and pay it forward for future generations as meaningfully and sustainably as possible.

The only thing worse than having no answer is having the illusion of an answer. “No place for Hate” is just that, a placeholder until real answers can be found.

Arisson Stanfield can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on twitter @OddestOdyssey