Alyssa Rosenthal: Where was the discussion of hate crimes?

As much as GW boasts about its diversity, discrimination continues to rot our walls.

A recent incident at my high school has me reeling, as it demonstrated that bigotry can be found even where you feel immune to it. A student dressed up in Ku Klux Klan garb at a high school spirit rally, and while it did generate a small media response, the approach to the situation was overwhelmingly one of apathy.

I’d like to think that this sort of story exists only in my distant home state of Utah but an even graver incident occurred here at GW this month – graver because the actions were violent.

Metropolitan Police Department labeled the attack in Ivory Tower a hate crime as the alleged attacker repeatedly yelled homophobic slurs while beating his victim.

But where was the outpouring of students’ and University officials’ responses to the incident?

The University issued an e-mail alert about the Ivory Tower hate crime only after The Hatchet first reported on it. And while local media did pick up the story about the incident, not enough has been done to promote a discussion about what this means for our campus.

GW did not bother to enact a response until the news came out, and the e-mail did not provide information on a forum to discuss these incidents. It appeared only as an isolated assault, but not something that illustrated a larger problem.

Hate crimes are an act with intent to hurt someone based on a victim’s membership or perceived membership in a group. When someone commits this horrible act, he or she is verbally and physically putting someone else in pain.

We claim that we can’t ignore the devastating news of the Middle East, but problems in Ivory Tower? We take a glance and walk away.

While it is understandable to a certain extent why you would not want to get involved, there should be a school-wide response to the situation. Students should have spoken out and the administration should have offered avenues for students to discuss this horrible incident.

No such thing happened.

Whether or not this should have been labeled a hate crime – what with the victim actually being straight – doesn’t matter. A student attacked another student spouting homophobic slurs. And why aren’t we doing anything about this? We simply let the hate crime slip to the backs of our minds, referring to it once and never hearing about it again. The most controversy surrounding the attack stemmed from what MPD called it.

But the student attacked another student and called him homophobic names, proving bigorty existed. I am appalled at the mere thought that bigotry is still within our midst, and students and the Univeristy barely have a response.

The University needs to offer forums for discussion, needs to respond in ways other than an e-mail and needs to address the fact that even though our campus is typically tolerant, something so heinous can occur. And students need to take a step back and realize that such attacks deserve outrage.

I did not consider that this would occur on our campus, just as I did not think a student in my high school would dress as a member of the KKK. But I never thought the reactions would be so apathetic.

Not just as GW students, but as citizens, we must all stop standing by and dare to get involved.

The writer is a freshman majoring in political communication.

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