Last Sunday, a Gallatin sophomore found a racist message on a poster in a bathroom stall at Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. The black-marker note said, “Hasta Luego Dreamers,” probably referencing President Donald Trump’s statements in the past about his intentions to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In response, NYU’s Dream Team, along with 14 clubs on campus, co-hosted a rally on Tuesday, titled “Anti-Hate Rally: DREAMers are here to stay.” Dozens of students showed up in support of both DREAMers and undocumented students at NYU; however, the hour-long rally was not well received by everyone. According to Aree Worawongwasu, the president of NYU’s Asian Pacific American Coalition, university administrators and faculty criticized the initiative by saying the students were “making a big deal out of nothing.” However, it seems like professors and administrators were the ones who overreacted. The rally was concise and calm, and it only served as a reminder that NYU stands together as a community, and we will not submit to intolerance.
During the rally, NYU’s Dream Team stated, “There is no place for this type of public display of hatred and intolerance on our campus, in our city or in our country.” The manifestation was organized with the intention of bringing the NYU community together after racism and bigotry proved to be still present in our campus. However, without full support of the university, the organizers felt their opinions were being dismissed. Furthermore, Fadumo Osman, the president of NYU College Democrats, stated that there were 10 Public Safety officers present, a reaction she had never seen in response to active hate groups, that have been invited to the campus in the past. The criticism made by the university faculty and administration represents a major disconnection between NYU and their student body. Every DREAMer on campus deserves to feel safe at their school, and this message was an attack on their right to safety. At a university that prides itself on its commitment to inclusion and equality, to brush off such a hateful and infantile jab at vulnerable members of our community is unacceptable.
Today, as the highest government office in the United States stands on the offense in its attitude toward undocumented immigrants, this protest was far from out of scope. The message found in Bobst was beyond disheartening and represents a bigotry that simply cannot be tolerated at NYU. The rally held at the Kimmel Center for University Life was peaceful. It was not only an acceptable response, but necessary in ensuring that NYU remains a place of inclusion and does not emulate Trump in his attacks on DREAMers. This rally came on the heels of another incident a few weeks ago in which a white supremacist message was found on campus; it is crucial that NYU students do not fall silent and continue to combat any intolerance that arises on campus. The rally sent a message of utmost importance in the face of these recent events — DREAMers at NYU are not alone, but have allies throughout campus committed to inclusion.
The recent escalation of discriminatory messages appearing across the country, including our very own campus, should solidify NYU’s firm stance against hate speech of any form — even something as inconspicuous as a small piece of vandalism inside a bathroom. Hostility of any kind on a campus like NYU will cause a ripple effect, and whenever such behaviors are not treated with precaution, it is equivalent to tacitly condoning bigotry. NYU’s unique position as the U.S. college with the highest number of international students means we should look at the issue with an even more diverse and accepting perspective than any typical college, and insensitive messages of any kind, despite their intentions, should be treated seriously rather than being dismissed.
Correction: Oct. 19, 2017
A previous version of this article stated, “University administrators and faculty, according to Aree Worawongwasu, the president of NYU’s Asian Pacific American Coalition, criticized the initiative by saying the students were ‘making a big deal out of nothing.'” This phrase has been revised for clarity.
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