June 18, 2019 | 72° F

EDITORIAL: Hate crimes have no place at Rutgers

University declares its concern, protection for all of community


Results of the recent presidential election have groups of people bracing themselves against the elements of the current political climate, which is likely to be not in their favor. In fact, the climate is hostile. After the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a “rash” of verbal and physical abuse targeting minorities and others at school, at mosques and other locations.

In California, a person who was allegedly a substitute teacher was caught on record imparting fear in a class of sixth-grade students by telling them President-elect Donald Trump will deport their parents. He said, “They will leave you behind, and "You will be in foster care.” At the University of Pennsylvania, first-year black students were added into a GroupMe chat called “N- Lynching” and sent racist messages from a student from the University of Oklahoma. In Texas, an elderly black veteran who had a service dog had what was supposed to be a free meal for veterans on Veterans Day taken from him while in the middle of eating, because a man wearing a Trump shirt accused him of lying about serving his country. A Muslim woman boarded a bus in New York City and a couple started to verbally abuse her and tried yank off her hijab. All over the country more women are asking their doctors for intrauterine devices (IUD) for the need of long-acting birth control.

More than 300 incidents of hate crimes have been reported since the election, and it’s clear that the incoming administration has not only emboldened people to express hateful and discriminatory attitudes, it has legitimized these despicable views in its welcome of Steve Bannon — a well-known white nationalist and an former executive chairman of a website that’s a haven for neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and racist groups — into the White House. It also speaks volumes when groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party praise Bannon’s hiring.

While all over the country certain people are feeling and experiencing the negative effects of the new President-elect, Rutgers has yet to witness blatant and outright antagonistic forms of discrimination post-2016 election.

But knowing that Rutgers is no stranger to controversy (e.g. the Tyler Clementi case or the Viva de Deportation graffiti on campus), it might be too early to tell whether students might be the target of aggression based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity, or if there’s an empirical increase of hostile acts on campus.

Although it still has its flaws, Rutgers as an institution with resilient inclusive values is relatively insulated. New Jersey, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, has the fourth largest number of hate groups out of the United States. This small state of New Jersey — barely distinguishable in the U.S. map — is only behind California, Florida and New York in the number of active hate groups, which totals to around 40 and includes one Ku Klux Klan, seven neo-Nazi groups, one white nationalist society, eight black separatists organizations and a record label that specializes in white-supremacist music. These appalling numbers run contrary to much of the experiences of students have at the University. Who knew there could be so much hate contained in one of the smallest states?

But after protest after protest, Rutgers — notably its students — has shown its concern for the precarious state of the country and its commitment to protecting vulnerable groups from harm. As recently as Nov. 16, there was a walkout to protest possible deportation methods proposed by the Trump and expressing the need to make the University a place free of fear from deportation (i.e. “sanctuary campus”). Despite how violence and discrimination are pervasive throughout the country, an overwhelming number of Rutgers students are making it clear that this campus is not going to be a place where this type of hostility takes place.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 148th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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