Students protest ‘mental and emotional abuse of hate speech’

Students at Gettysburg College recently held a days-long protest in an effort to put an end to the “mental and emotional abuse of hate speech” apparently found on campus.

In a statement obtained by The Gettysburgian, protest organizer Joseph Recupero explains that students “can no longer face the mental and emotional abuse of hate speech,” noting that they “should not have to fear walking across campus at night” in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

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“We are here for an education, but how can we focus on learning when we are constantly looking over our shoulders?” Recupero asks in a statement promoting the November 17 protest. “So let’s make something happen. Together. This is a time for all of us to unite under an understanding that hate is a poison that we will not swallow.”

The demonstration, which started that Thursday afternoon, continued well into the following day as protesters garnered the support of their school’s president, who met with several of the organizers of the demonstration and even encouraged other students at the college to support the movement.

In fact, in a campus-wide email sent out by President Janet Morgan Riggs, she explains that she was “personally moved” by the demonstration and advised her students to stop by to show their support.

“The group of students continued their sit-in overnight…they plan to continue today,” she writes. “I encourage you to stop by to show your support, share perspectives, and engage in discussion...As we consider next steps, I ask each member of this community to show more kindness, compassion, and appreciation for one another.”

Additionally, Campus Reform obtained a copy of an email from the Student Government Executive Board stating that they “unequivocally support the action of [their] peers.”

While professing that “we support free speech,” the statement adds that “the Senate Executive Board in no way sees hate speech as an acceptable form of expression,” and “condemn all forms of it.”

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“While our political and ideological beliefs may not all be the same, we can all agree that hate has no place in our community,” it continues before encouraging other students to participate in the protest.

Although the sit-in eventually came to an end, organizers of the demonstration have launched a campus collective called “#WontStandForYourHate,” which is “working to establish open and productive dialogue on our college campus,” according to a subsequent email obtained by Campus Reform.

In that same email, however, Recupero also declares that only those who “agree with” the collective’s goals and beliefs are welcome.

“We are here as a support network for all members of our campus community who wish to learn in, live in, and build safe and inclusive spaces where difference is celebrated,” he writes. “We believe apathy and silence contribute to hate. If we don’t act and speak against hate, we allow it to be perpetuated.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @a_nlopez