Over the next three days — Wednesday, March 27 to Friday, March 29 — Macalester will host its first-ever Naming Hate event: a series of lectures, panels and workshops on the nature of hate and how to respond to manifestations of hate on and off campus.
After the appearance of multiple swastikas, racist graffiti and other acts of hate on Macalester’s campus over the past two academic years, Anael Kuperwajs Cohen ’19 and Juliet Kelson ’20 decided to take action.
“We’re both Jewish students, and we were both pretty fed up about what was going on on this campus and the way it was being handled by the administration, the lack of response and ownership with the swastikas on campus and the other forms of racism and hate we were seeing come up,” Kelson said.
Naming Hate began to take shape during the fall 2018 semester as a response to that sentiment. Kelson and Kuperwajs Cohen met with Macalester President Brian Rosenberg in October and then reached out to student cultural organizations, the Department of Multicultural Life, Center for Religious and Spiritual Life (CRSL), Title IX and the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement in December.
“We didn’t want it to be just us, and we didn’t think it should be,” Kelson said. “We want this to be something for the entire campus, not just the Jewish students on campus, not just the people who are affected by the anti-semitism on campus, but really something that comes from everyone and is for everyone.”
The event itself is designed to take students through the process of acknowledging hate, educating themselves and actively responding. Every event except for the keynote address requires students to RSVP via Facebook to reserve their spots.
“It’s a total of five events, and we structured it in a way to flow through our ideas on how to address hate,” Kuperwajs Cohen said.
The first day, which will focus on education and awareness, will feature a faculty panel on hate in the classroom and academia at large at 12 p.m. and an event discussing the history of hate at Macalester at 4:30 p.m. Both will take place in Davis Court in Markim Hall.
The following day, civil rights strategist and Executive Director at Western States Center Eric Ward joins the event. Ward is the author of “Skin in the Game,” a 2017 article which addresses antisemitism as the “theoretical core” of white nationalism.
“That’s kind of tying everything that’s happening at Macalester to what’s happening around the globe and the nation — the broader conversation,” Kuperwajs Cohen said. “He does such a good job tying together multiple forms of racism and discrimination in a way we thought would be good for this event.”
Ward will be leading a lunch hour conversation in the CRSL on Thursday and giving Naming Hate’s keynote address, titled “Skin in the Game,” at 5 p.m. in Weyerhaeuser Chapel.
On Friday at 12 p.m., Naming Hate will conclude with a coalition-building workshop in the basement of Markim Hall.
“We don’t want this to be just passive listening,” Kelson said. “We want people to be participating in it.”
With this goal in mind, the organizers are also asking Macalester students to write and sign their own, individualized pledges to continue educating themselves and actively tackling hate in Macalester and beyond.
“We had a lot of talks about deflecting,” Kelson said. “When all these swastikas first started coming up last academic year, there were a lot of [people saying], ‘It was in the library, the library’s a public building, it’s open to anyone, we don’t know if it was a Macalester student.’
“But that’s not helpful,” she continued. “It deflects, and it pushes it away and it says, ‘This is not us. This is not our problem. We don’t know if it was a Macalester student, so we don’t need to deal with it.’
Kelson and Kuperwajs Cohen both highlighted that this goes beyond just anti-semitism at Macalester.
“Beyond just the swastikas as well,” Kuperwajs Cohen said. “We know that this happens in all forms of hate and racism and discrimination. Really just understanding this happens at Macalester and kind of learning about it.”
“We want to reverse that and say, ‘This is happening at Macalester, it’s consistently happening at Macalester, and we need to take ownership of it, and we need to turn it around,” Kelson said.