Hate Wall event encourages tolerance, unity

The Hate Wall event encouraged students to tackle stereotypes they have experienced.
Freshman Dennis Magdato writes on the Hate Wall on Friday in The Shack. The wall was pulled down at the end of the event to symbolize tearing down mental barriers.

Twelve boxes covered in racial slurs and gender epitaphs and other derogatory comments stood in the back room of The Shack on Thursday night.

The boxes formed the Hate Wall, an annual project encouraging students to knock down stereotypes.

To start the night off, Lakeisha Williams, Missouri Students Association’s Multicultural Issues Committee chairwoman, explained to the purpose of the event to participants.

“The goal of today is really about education,” she said.

Hosted by MCI along with the Triangle Coalition and the Legion of Black Collegians, students gathered to educate each other about tolerance for all races, religions and genders at MU.

The event provided free Chipotle burritos to all students at the Hate Wall. Before the event had officially started, students lined up around The Shack to write on the wall. Students were welcome to write any words on the wall that had hurt them during their time on campus.

“The Hate Wall was something MCI has historically done,” Williams said. “For MCI, this falls directly into our mission of catering (toward) minority and cultural students of all different backgrounds to make their experience at MU more cohesive.”

Student representatives from the South Asian Students Association, the Triangle Coalition, Hispanic American Leadership Organization, LBC and the Muslim Students Organization all spoke at the event.

Each of the organization representatives asked those in attendance to open their minds and gain knowledge. After the presentations, the stage became an open forum for any students who felt the need to voice their opinions about the issues being discussed.

“I hope that students learn something about someone other than themselves,” Williams said. “Beyond personal learning, there’s also the hope that when they see students using hurtful language they will feel empowered to stop them.”

Williams said the Hate Wall event has been held annually for the past four years as a public forum. Before the current incarnation of the event, the wall was set up in Speakers Circle, where students would walk by and write on the wall.

“This was a tradition that has been held for many years, but when I was a freshman it hadn’t been held for a while,” Williams said.

Workers who staffed the event wore plain white T-shirts with the word “HATE” on the front. As the night went on, some of the shirts became covered with hate terms as well, serving as extensions of the already full Hate Wall.

“Words can elevate us and put us way down,” Triangle Coalition President Emily Colvin said. “I’m sure it will be very satisfying to see these hateful words (on the Hate Wall) destroyed.”

After the open forum portion of the event, participants broke up into small focus groups to discuss misconceptions within today’s society.

During the event, MSO spokesman Rafa Nizam talked to the crowd about Muslim stereotypes following the Sept. 11 attacks. He, like many of the other speakers, hoped the Hate Wall event would help encourage students to look past common racial misconceptions.

“The biggest tool we all can use is knowledge,” Nizam said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to rid the world of the nonsense we see up here (on the wall).”

At the end of the event, students knocked down the wall, displaying their hope that students would think twice before using the hateful words written on the dismantled pieces of cardboard.

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