Hate speech is never acceptable. Last year our campus experienced a rash of acts of intolerance, and the administration is to be applauded for taking action to formulate a policy to uniformly deal with these acts. While this is a step in the right direction, education must also be a part of the university’s plan to combat intolerance.
We support the administration’s decision to reject a zero-tolerance policy. Flexibility is a key component of a strong intolerance policy. Acts of intolerance are never acceptable, but a zero tolerance policy would not allow for recognition of the fact that there are varying levels of offenses, and it may not be appropriate to punish every offender with automatic expulsion.
Students must be a part of the team that deliberates on acts of intolerance, and ACJC justices should be a part of every hearing committee. Students are the ones most directly affected by any acts of intolerance, and they should have a strong voice in what happens to the perpetrators of these acts. While policy is a good measure against people who have committed acts of intolerance, it is not enough. A policy only deals with the effects of intolerance, and there must be a proactive component to the policy.
Education is vital, and all students must be informed of the causes of intolerance and repercussions of what happens when caught engaging in such acts at UR. Programs to address issues of diversity and tolerance must be more prominent during freshman orientation, and class councils could create programming for their fellow students throughout the year to ensure that a message of acceptance is getting through. Students should know the moment they step on campus that hate and intolerance are not acceptable at UR. While the administrations shouldn’t have a zero tolerance policy, the student body should.