Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
No Place For Hate, a task force formed to combat hate on Ohio State’s campus, has made recommendations to improve awareness, retention and form five committees.
On April 5, “Long Live Zimmerman” was spray-painted on the west wall of Hale Hall, which is home to the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center.
Officials said the words refer to George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader who killed Trayvon Martin, allegedly in self-defense, Feb. 26 in Florida and was charged with 2nd-degree murder.
President E. Gordon Gee and Board of Trustees member Algenon Marbley called for the formation of the task force, headed by Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of Student Life and Valerie Lee, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion.
Gee sent an email regarding the task force’s work, including a link to its report, to faculty, students and staff Thursday.
The report outlines short- and long-term goals the task force has in the areas of awareness, climate, and recruitment and retention. The report also includes the task force’s desire for the assessment of these areas every six months.
Lee said some of the task force’s short-term goals, which they define as things they can accomplish within a year, are areas the task force has already made progress on, such as the hate crime alert system.
The first hate crime alert email was issued on April 6.
Lee said other goals, such as a universal OSU Helpline, are within reach. Lee likened the helpline to an “OSU 911,” which will connect callers to “dispatchers trained in university referrals,” according to the task force’s report.
Larry Williamson, Hale Center director and task force member, said the helpline could act as a go-to place in certain situations.
“A lot of times when things happen, you don’t have a place that you feel that you can go, and these things (the helpline and hate crime alerts) were put into place to make sure the students, faculty and staff have something tangible that they can actually dialogue with and try to get some action,” Williamson said.
The task force has also recommended the creation of five ongoing committees to move the task force’s mission forward. Committees will address issues of diversity awareness, identity-based harassment, faculty, staff and faculty recruitment and retention, and curriculum.
“These committees will be a way to engage more persons from the community,” Lee said.
Adams-Gaston said the five committees reflect the same areas the goals focus on, and will help extend their goals in future directions.
“The ultimate goal is to ensure that the university continues to expand in its engagement and its breadth of inclusion, and the sense of welcoming, and the sense of voice for all individuals in the community,” Adams-Gaston said.
Students played a large role in the task force’s mission of “no hate,” Adams-Gaston said.
“Much of the work the task force did was student inspired, student supported, student researched. And what we think is, as we go forward, obviously, every committee will have some student voice on it, and so they will continue to be … the focus of the kinds of things that we’re able to accomplish,” Adams-Gaston said.
Alan Michaels, Dean of Moritz College of Law and task-force member, said student input has been invaluable.
“We had an extraordinary group of students,” Michaels said. “The passion and good faith from different student members generated a large number of possibilities.”
“The students were the ones who were energizing us,” Lee said.
Gee’s email highlighted one of the task force’s goals, which will take root this summer, the Multicultural Center’s Open Doors bias training. The program will educate more than 1,000 student workers on campus.
Tuanya Henderson, a fourth-year in psychology, said she’s pleased with this initiative.
“Some people just really don’t know (about diversity and inclusion), and I think it’s definitely a good thing to incorporate this education with student leaders,” Henderson said.
In his email, Gee commended No Place For Hate on its efforts.
“Having served as a university president for more than three decades, I will say that never before have I seen a more constructive, positive and forward-thinking response to something that could all-too-easily divide a campus community,” Gee said in the email.
Lee said the task force is moving toward a larger goal.
“A larger goal is to have diversity embedded in the fabric of the university life, as a core value,” Lee said.
Williamson said diversity is important on campus.
“Anytime that you have diversity, you’re gonna want to make sure that the fabric of diversity is woven throughout the entire campus and the university,” Williamson said. “The increase in involvement as far as people of color will help that fabric grow into something very special.”
“I think the task force is a courageous effort to carry forward in moving OSU from excellence to eminence,” Michaels said. “It’s great to be a part of a university that takes the issues of diversity and inclusion as seriously as OSU.”
Henderson said she is grateful for the task force and its goals.
“I appreciate that they’re trying to fight and show that they care,” Henderson said. “Now we just have to see how it plays out, but it’s good that they’re trying to do something.”
Adams-Gaston said the investigation continues on acts of hate and vandalism on and around campus.
“The police are actively continuing to search for any individuals who might have been engaged in this activity,” Adams-Gaston said. “So that’s open and ongoing. One of the things that the hate crime alert does for us is it allows all of us to be aware, so that we are also the eyes and ears on the ground and providing support and information to our safety and police.”