Rise above the hate, embrace diversity at Rutgers


On Oct. 28 the University community will once again be tested for its resolves to rise above hate. There has been a lot of talk about how to respond to this. Do we counter Westboro Baptist Church's rally? Do we do nothing and ignore them? What to do is the big question. Here are some proposals I have been thinking about of how to respond that are longer lasting than a counter rally and better than provoking confrontation with the representatives from the group.

One week before on Oct. 21, you can come to the Rutgers Student Center Graduate Lounge for the latest "Triologue," a discussion among Jewish, Muslim and Christian students that is sponsored by the religious chaplaincies here at the University, as well as the office of Student Life, where we can discuss what makes us similar and different and how we can coexist with each other.

Become a member of the Middle East Coexistance House on Douglass campus, where young women come together from different religious, cultural or other backgrounds to share experiences and to travel together to promote coexistence. For those of us who cannot become a member of the house, we should attend the events they sponsor.

Get involved with the "Days Without Hate" event sponsored by Rutgers Hillel. This event was created in the aftermath of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, which was an act of hatred for his views. This event is now in its second decade. Under Hillel's direction, more than two-dozen groups participate during it, and it has become one of the largest campus-wide community service events. It will take place this year from Nov. 2-4, and you can still get involved in helping plan it!

Attend a meeting of the Queer Caucus, Big LaRU, Black Student Council, Asian Student Council and Latino Student Council.

Go to a performance of the Laramie Project or go out and learn about Matthew Shepard. Go to religious services of a religion that you do not affiliate with.

We at the University have a history of being proactive in response to hate. Last year the community came together for a candlelight vigil at Brower Commons in memory of those killed in the Mumbai attacks in India, and a discussion was held by the Association of Indians, both of which were attended by people from a variety of backgrounds.

The year before that another candlelight vigil was held at Brower in memory of those killed in the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Israel, which, with Hillel's support and leadership, brought together people who were all hurt and wanted to do something to say we will not stand idly by while hatred exists in this world.

Three years ago leaders from across campus, Latino, Muslim, Catholic, Asian and many other groups joined together with Hillel in memory of Ilan Halimi, a 22-year-old French Jew who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by a fanatical group solely because he was a Jew.

We must continue to stand up and be proactive in our response to hate speech, and we at the University have a great history of doing this and we must always be proactive. We will not sit by and let people come to our campus and speak ill of our friends and classmates; we will show through our actions in being involved in discussions and going outside our comfort zones that we never fall victim to their words.

Yonaton Hillel Yares is a School of Arts and Sciences senior. 


Yonaton Hillel Yares

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