Hate is on the rise in dorms

As finals week approaches, some students may be finding it hard to study when they’re afraid to be in their rooms.Incidents of targeting, bias and hate are a rising cause for concern in residence halls across campus.”There have been particular incidents where residents have felt uncomfortable in their own rooms because of what’s been written on their door,” Residence Director of University Heights South Virginia Olin said. “These halls are people’s home, and people should feel safe in their own home.”Hate manifests itself in many forms including derogatory language, images and language written on white boards, destruction of property and physical assaults.”Even if it’s intended to be a joke,” Olin said, “it makes some people uncomfortable and creates a climate where hate is possible.”Drawings of male genitals on white boards are among the most common incidents Residence Director of University Heights North Todd Porter said.”What does this say about male dominance?” Porter said. “It’s normalizing a dominant society, in a bad way, by setting a standard that this is OK.”The worry is that these incidents have become such a common practice that people aren’t recognizing the damage it does to our sense of community and belonging. “We’re building walls in our community that really hurt us because we aren’t able to connect with each other,” Olin said.While incidents generally are not targeting any particular individuals the prevalence indicates a much bigger problem, not just at UVM, but also in our culture’s overall insensitivity toward others, Olin said.”The cumulative impact of this is that you feel unwelcome and not valued within this community,” Assistant Director of Athletic Campus and member of the Anti-Bias Task Force Christina Olstad said.One way UVM is combating this problem is with the Anti-Bias Task Force, a committee that examines and brings awareness to the ways hate and bias effect our community, and looks for ways to make people take ownership for their actions.”All students, faculty and staff need to speak up when they hear or see bias and hate in our community,” Olstad said. “We all play a role in creating our climate and we all need to have ownership in creating safe inclusive communities.”Olin said she believes the fact that people don’t care is a serious problem.”The people who do this are not willing to acknowledge that it isn’t a harmless joke,” she said. “Actually it is very insensitive and insulting to many people.”