As students at UConn have finally begun to settle into a routine of classes and extracurricular activities, it has become apparent this year in Storrs will be unlike others. Whether it be attending a vigil for the events in Charlottesville or organizing a rally around the decision regarding DACA, students this year seem to have a renewed sense of activism to stand up for their beliefs and speak out against injustice.
However, not all students have been experiencing this sense of acceptance and empowerment. On Aug. 31, while walking to a dining hall following an event at UConn Hillel, one student was verbally harassed by a passerby regarding his religion. Nathan Schacter, a junior communications major, was told to “go back to the fucking ovens” by someone driving by, before the car sped off. Shaken, Schacter has since reported it to UConn Hillel as well as UConn Community Standards who are looking into the matter. Additionally, Schacter posted about the incident on Facebook, where he received an overwhelming response of support from the community.
The UConn community needs to remember that these acts of hatred do not only affect one person. While derogatory comments may have only been directed at one individual in this case, the reverberations of these words can be felt all through campus. As can be seen in the news with events like those in Charlottesville, hate escalates quickly and has strength in numbers. If we wish to combat these harmful experiences, we must meet this cruelty with an undivided front of support on all sides.
While the university has indeed been providing assistance and support to Schacter since these events, it is imperative that more be done. While students can receive support from their community and cultural centers regarding acts of hatred, all students need to be reminded that discrimination, of any form, at UConn cannot and will not be tolerated. This school has so much more to offer than the animosity and hostility that has been shown here and throughout the world, but if we do not take a stronger stance against it, then we will not be much better than those who shout abuse out of car windows.
The act of hatred that occurred against Schacter is despicable. As a university that prides itself on its diversity, the UConn community should not be represented by an event that so blatantly disregards every person’s right to their own religious beliefs, opinions and self-expression. While the issue is still under investigation, it is important to remember that we cannot tolerate behavior like this if we wish to remain an open and welcoming university for students from all backgrounds cultures and walks of life.