Opinion

An open letter to the Macalester administration

Editor’s note: This is a reprint of a letter distributed on Macalester’s campus earlier this week. Other students have contributed, but do not feel comfortable being acknowledged as co-writers.

We, as members of the Macalester student body, are writing with concern for our safety and wellbeing on this campus. There have been nine incidents of hate speech in the form of swastikas and anti-Arab language drawn or carved in various places on campus so far this semester. These acts are intolerable. We refuse to let our campus be plagued by such anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and will not stand idly by while we continually feel persecuted in a community where these sentiments are expected to be absent.

The decision to no longer alert the student body about the appearance of hate speech via the Mac Daily has not deescalated the situation; the coverage has ceased yet attacks continue. When ignored, hate crimes escalate, they don’t fade. Ignoring these seemingly small actions not only invalidates victims, but renders increasingly violent attacks culturally permissible. We believe this is not the culture you seek to create at Macalester.

Moreover, this escalation has the potential to lead to real physical violence. We must acknowledge that all hate has a beginning. Every act of aggression, in any form, must begin on a lesser scale in order to grow, and it will grow if we incrementally cease to be outraged. The hate speech was initially shocking. Now it’s no longer being announced. The student body, as a whole, must continue to be aware.

We know that acknowledging the issue may cause it to intensify, as you said yourself. However, this is worth the cost. Progress is messy. It is dirty. It is complicated and confusing. Hate always rises against change, but there is no other way to end it. To hide from this truth is to deny us the ability to move past our oppression.

Thus, we come to you with three requests:

  1. Maintain coverage of all hate crimes in the Mac Daily, with clear
    distinction from other, less pressing, announcements.

  2. Stop using problematic rhetoric such as “…small swastikas…” in
    communications. There are no “small” hate crimes. There are no
    “small” acts of racism. There are no “small” forms of anti-Arab
    speech. There are no “small” swastikas. Hate is not small.

  3. Facilitate open and continuous dialogue between students and
    administration about the hate within our community. We do not have
    all the solutions, and we know you do not either. Instead we must
    work towards justice together.

The publicity of this recurring hate speech, while perhaps detrimental to Macalester’s image, first and foremost affects the targeted communities within the student body. Those persecuted should be the priority of the administration. Our voices should not be silenced.

The continued hate speech is endemic of a larger issue, one of passivity, inaction and lack of responsibility toward the hate and oppression within our community. Giving these incidents the response they demand, while what perpetrators desire, is the only thing that can catalyze the internal cultural shift necessary to combat the hate present at Macalester. We, the Macalester student body, do not want to be complicit in hate. We do not want to be victims of hate. We urge you, please bring this issue back into the light so we, as a community, can fight it.

by Santiago Padrón and Adriana Saso, and K. Bieger

asasogra@macalester.edu

kbieger@macalester.edu

November 30, 2017

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