By: Kate Luce
Active Minds, the Queer Straight Alliance and the Honors Program all teamed up to host Speak Out Against Hate. This event comes to IU South Bend after recent attacks against Asian-Americans, a changing political system and the midst of the pandemic.
Speak Out Against Hate typically partners with other organizations on campus, with a focus on mental health.
“We also want to make the event as widespread as possible to reach as many students as we can, so by involving our fellow clubs in our events, we’re able to expand our event to more students than we would just by ourselves. I approached both the Queer Straight Alliance and the Honors Program. I’m also an Honors student, so that connection was relatively easy to make. I just met Reagan, from the QSA, for the first time for this event, but they have shown great interest in helping us and making this a valuable experience,” Nicole Haas, Co-President of Active Minds, said.
“Nicole reached out to me about collaborating in the Speak Out. It sounded really interesting, so I brought it up to my club mates, and they agreed that it would be a good idea to participate. The QSA is planning to speak about the hate we have experienced in our community and those around us. As you probably know, it can be very, very hard being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community in any aspect. Even as an ally, It’s hard to be supportive at times when others try to bring you down,” Reagan Ayala, President of QSA, said.
Typically, this event is hosted every fall and spring. Speak Out Against Hate invites the community of IU South Bend to participate in an open forum. The only rule the event has is that everyone stays respectful.
“Although we are prepared to talk and initiate conversation if needed, these events are not scripted. They are also focused on the student’s perspective, with few staff attending to moderate and facilitate discussion if needed. This is the first time it is all-inclusive and that we have opened it up to all students, staff, and faculty to attend, again with hopes to unite our campus community in such a time of disconnect,” Derrick Patty, Learning Disabilities Specialist, said.
Haas started the event off by speaking about the recent rise of crime against Asian-Americans. With people in power pushing hate and misinformation on the pandemic, these hate crimes are only getting pushed forward. Haas reported that 3,800 hate crimes against Asians and Pacific Islanders have been reported in the past year.
With international students and Asian students at IU South Bend, Haas and many other attendees emphasized the need to keep these students safe during these times. Students can help by speaking out, Haas said staying silent on issues, means you are taking sides with the oppressor. She asked students to speak up when microaggressions happen, no matter who the person is.
Students also talk about Asian hate happening in our area. One student spoke of an experience at Meijer, where a group of boys yelled at a young, Asian-American woman. The student tried to catch up to the woman, but couldn’t.
Another student spoke on the painful stereotypes that were prevalent at IU Bloomington’s Jacobs School of Music. While she was there, she witnessed her fellow students speak down on the International and Asian-American students. It was upsetting to the students affected.
While Asian-American hate sparked the night off, the conversation shifted to the many ongoing events happening in the world and how to go about these issues.
With the trial of Derrick Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, many spoke of the frustration of the situation and the sadness they felt.
Another conversation that was delved into was the impact social media has on difficult events. From trying hard to ignore the comment section to feelings towards family members being outspoken with hate, the attendees spoke with their personal experience over this year.
One student spoke on how over quarantine, they felt the courage to leave a friendship with someone who openly supported hate.
As the COVID-19 pandemic reached the light at the end of the tunnel, many spoke of the frustration and shock they felt with the actions of the community and friends. One student who works as a cashier still feels the frustration of how many in the community have acted.
When the event wrapped up, the organizers spoke on how engaged everyone was, despite it being on Zoom. Over 30 people were in attendance and stayed the entire time. In fact, when asked if Speak Out Against Hate should be held every month, rather than every semester, the majority of attendees agreed.
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“I hope that this event, if anything, will make people feel less alone and that they have support from their peers. Like I mentioned in the previous answer, every one of our students deserves to be heard and should feel safe. In previous Speak Outs, we’ve had some intense conversations regarding mental health, racism, stress, etc… Seeing people open up about these topics that can be stigmatized or silenced in some cases is a very reassuring thing to see, and I think that’s something to really look forward to,” Haas said.