Weber State University’s African-American senator, Jeffrey Henry, discussed how fear drives hate during his speech on Monday, which was the race and ethnicity day for Stop the Hate Week.
“I have doubt and fear just like everyone else, but I don’t accept that fear or hate,” Henry said.
In his speech, Henry said being a minority is not the only trait that makes people diverse.
“Diversity is all the ways we are similar and different,” he said. “This definition includes your gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, economics, physical and mental ability, generation. . . . It is a growing definition.”
The Center for Diversity and Unity organized Stop the Hate Week, specifically led by chair Kelsey Capoferri.
Joshua Hunt, assistant director to the vice president of diversity, said one of the goals this week is to “target all areas of diversity. We are trying to start the year out strong by making an impact with every aspect of the student body.”
However, only five people attended this kickoff event. Hunt said he hopes to get the word out more about the events.
Among those who attended were Vera and Rand Briem, nontraditional students at WSU through the Lifelong Learning program. They said they regularly attend CDU events.
“The university atmosphere, especially diversity and unity activities, uplift me,” Vera said. “They get me out of the ruts that one can get into when going through everyday life.”
After talking about a past trip to the Japanese-American internment camps in Utah with the CDU, Vera said the hate and fear during the time of those camps in World War II is similar to the present.
“I compare it to now; people don’t understand the Muslim religion and hold fear because of events on 9/11,” she said. “We tend to fear people that are different than us and tend to be distrustful.”
Henry said that, to understand and accept others, people must first understand themselves. He brought up a new diversity philosophy from Culture Coach International that states diversity is about “us understanding us,” rather than the old philosophy of “us understanding them.”
Henry is also the vice president of Feminists United Network, a member of Black Scholars United and on the Hispanic Area Council.
“My goal is to minimize oppression through being involved,” he said.
When an audience member asked Hunt what made him want to be involved with CDU, he said, “This is where I saw that I could make the most direct impact at WSU. I am in the military, so Army values mean a lot to me. I like to represent well, break the mold, and promote understanding and cooperation.”
Stop the Hate Week will include three more events students can attend:
- Sept. 12 — Mental, Emotional and Physical Disabilities, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Building, Room 316
- Sept. 13 — Sexual Minorities and Oppression, 12-1:15 p.m. in the Wildcat Theater
- Sept. 14 — “You Are Not Alone” Night, 6-7 p.m. in the Wildcat Theater