Analyzing hate in the Region

Vandalism remains to be prevalent in the community while both schools “instil” diverse values on their campuses.

Vandalism remains to be prevalent in the community while both schools “instil” diverse values on their campuses.

Vandalism remains to be prevalent in the community while both schools “instil” diverse values on their campuses. | Photo by Jessica Dik

There has been an increasing number of reports regarding hate crime and hate graffiti on the Wilfrid Laurier University Waterloo campus in the past month.

Laurier faculty, staff and students have reported various incidents to Special Constables Services — most involving clear anti-Semitic and anti-black graffiti.

Laura Mae Lindo, director of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Diversity and Equity Office, said that the reports of racial discrimination are “not indicative of the campus that we want and we’re going to do everything in our best efforts to make sure that we are mindful of issues of racism on campus.”

Mahejabeen Ebrahim, director of the University of Waterloo’s Equity Office, said they too take racial harassment and discrimination seriously.

“The University of Waterloo is committed to equity and proactively fostering a climate of respect for diverse people,” she said.

Jessie Chen, second-year science student at University of Waterloo, said it is a “huge failure” for society to have these harmful values so systematically ingrained.

“It’s disgusting that there are people who are comfortable with blatantly perpetuating this kind of hate and prejudice, especially in an era and country that’s suppose to be relatively progressive,” she said.

Lindo explained the importance of approaching incidents of racism with a multi-faceted approach.

Working closely with Special Constable Services, the DEO has made several steps towards supporting students and preventing similar future incidents in the future.

“It’s not just a matter of figuring out who has done it or what is going on. It’s also making sure that you can do things to protect the people that are the target of the hate.”

Some steps the DEO has taken thus far include contacting and providing support to WLU’s Association of Black Students as well as Rabbi Moshe Goldman and the Jewish community.

Lindo also said they will try to instil a long-term plan by hosting a summit in March.

Towards the end of last semester, the DEO offered a Play for Peace, an event at which students could be supported by music therapists, as well as various campus community members who were able to speak about the specific campus climate which Laurier hopes to uphold.

“It’s a way of working through the unsettling feeling that you have when this kind of stuff is actually happening,” said Lindo.

Amy Rapien, third-year psychology student at Laurier, was shocked to hear about the recent reports.

“I would have hoped or thought that students attending an institution of higher, post-secondary education would be more informed on the adverse effects which using those hateful words have,” Rapien said.

“It saddens me to know that people on our campus think it’s acceptable to use these hurtful words and symbols.”

Lindo offered a possible reason for the sudden increase in these crimes on campus.

She explained when support for survivors and targeted individuals is provided, those people feel more confident and comfortable to report the incidents they witness or experience.

“There’s something positive in knowing that people feel confident that they can call the Diversity and Equity Office or they can go to Special Constables,” she said.

In contrast, Lindo also speculated that the increasing number of global situations and political figures around the world speaking out in regards to topics surrounding racism may be a potential reason as to rising number of reports on campus.

Whether those words are positive or negative, it provides an open conversation for each individual to take part in, she explained.

“When you start to have a discussion, all sides that are a part of that discussion come out — the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Lindo also expressed the importance of providing continued support for students and individuals throughout campus — not only the ones targeted by the recent hate, but the wider community as well.

“When these kinds of things happen, wiping away the graffiti isn’t sufficient,” said Lindo.

“That harm is still there.”

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