April 14, 2008
Intolerance event finds open dialogue is key
By elizabeth elkins
“Is tolerance enough?” That question was the driving force behind the April 3 president’s commissions-sponsored brown bag panel discussion on “Acts of Intolerance.” More than 30 people attended the noon-time event in Winship Ballroom, where the discussion began with a short video “Blow the Whistle.” The video depicted students literally blowing whistles at a chalkboard filled with slurs.
“As a university we are different than an average nonprofit,” said Andy Wilson, director of residence life and panel moderator. “But it is that marketplace of free ideas that is a university [and] that makes us so unique. We must balance the exchange of ideas with the safety of our students.”
Deputy Chief of Police Ray Edge explained the difference between an Act of Intolerance (a Residence Hall anti-discrimination policy which applies to students), a violation of the Discriminatory Harassment Policy (a University-wide policy) and a hate crime (a violation of federal law). He reiterated the importance of the Emory Police in all three of these scenarios. Sylvester Hopewell from Equal Opportunity Programs explained his office’s role in reporting violations — stressing that anyone on campus can come directly to EOP to report possible policy violations.
Three panelists talked about their own experiences on campus. Alumna Laura Brown told the story of her 1991 experience in Smith-Harris residence hall when two of her gay friends were seen kissing. A crowd gathered near their window, and they were jeered. The University community banded together to support the gay students, and, in time, the Office of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Life was created. Sarah Zaim of the Muslim Student Association discussed the difficulties her organization faced during David Horowitz’ visits and the College Republicans’ support of Islamo-Facism Awareness Week. Office of Multicultural Programs and Services’ DeLa Sweeney talked about the positive changes he’s seen since he was a student at Emory.
“Our office has to support the offender,” Sweeney said. “He or she needs education, or they could become worse. Open dialogue is key. It’s the way to create change.”