OPINION: Students should unite against hatred on campus

A photo of Anderson Hall taken on Nov. 16, 2019. (Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

A recent article in the Kansas City Star reported that a new white nationalist movement is using Kansas State as it’s testing ground, starting with the formation of a new independent student organization that had alleged connections to public figures associated with white nationalism. Immediately, this news had a negative impact on our campus, leaving numerous students feeling threatened and unsafe.

The news of the organization on campus also ignited a hearty debate that centered around free speech, hate speech, what speech is and is not protected by the First Amendment and whether K-State is genuinely inclusive of marginalized students.

At K-State, we pride ourselves on our efforts toward diversity and inclusion. But we need to prove that those values matter to us by publically reaffirming our principles and welcoming students from diverse backgrounds.

K-State’s principles of community define us as a university where the dignity of every person is valued — where there is an atmosphere of justice based on respect for each other. We value mutual respect, acknowledge the dignity of diverse communities and have an obligation to be engaged positively. We should strive to contribute to a positive spirit that affirms the right to learn and allows for growth in the community — not just people who think like us or look like us.

After the news came out, students expected their fellow student leaders and the K-State administration to release a statement condemning and denouncing hatred immediately — however, that hope did not see the light of the day for nearly a week. The delayed response caused some students to lose faith in their leadership, including Student Governing Association.

Two years ago, a series of posters appeared all around campus that expressed white nationalist ideology. Almost instantaneously, this was met with sharp campus-wide criticism.

“Absolutely NO place for this on our campus,” the student body president tweeted.

However, it seems that such incidents have become so frequent that it is no longer surprising to students.

We are a student-led, student-driven university. Our voices against hate on campus should not be silenced.

Students need to come together, unite and hold the student leaders and K-State administration accountable by demanding action be taken to stand against people that seek to create fear and isolation through divisiveness and hatred.

There are, of course, limitations to what K-State can do when it comes to preventing such incidents, regardless of whether controversy arises. However, as a united student body, we can surely do better. If all of us come together and denounce hatred, bigotry and every other form of discrimination, no one will be able to divide the K-State family.

We need to uphold our beloved principles, irrespective of our personal beliefs. We need to stand together against hate on our campus. When we vindicate these principles through our actions, we will be able to eradicate hatred from our campus.

Hatred is not a left-wing or right-wing issue. It is a right or wrong issue. Conservatives, liberals, moderates and apolitical students should unite in the fight against hatred on campus.

When students show a united front and hold the administration, the student leaders and organizations accountable for their actions, or lack of thereof, the university will become a more inclusive place.

Fighting against hatred is a steep and long path, but this is not a time to stay silent. It is time to speak out and ensure that our concerns are not left unheard. It is time we show the people who hold uninformed beliefs that diversity is our strength, not our downfall.

Our campus is a beautiful campus, and our unity in diversity is what makes us great. Students on our campus should go out and meet people who are different than they are and have friendly interactions with one another. The U.S. is perhaps one of the only countries where you can experience magnificent opportunities for cultural exchange, and students should make use of these opportunities. They might find themselves becoming better, open-minded and informed individuals.

The future of humanity is one where we are all united in our diversity, where we are inclusive towards one another and one where we all work collectively for inclusive global growth.

To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”

Vedant Deepak Kulkarni is a junior in management information systems and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.