Volume 92, Issue 89

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Editorial Board 1998-99

Hate incites thought

Editorial Cartoon

Hate incites thought

Recent incidents of hate-filled vandalism in Guelph and London have become cause for concern, not only because they have occurred, but because of where they are occurring.

Last week at the University of Guelph, an entire floor of the French residence was vandalized with swastikas. Earlier this month a Jewish Western student living at Western's Westminister residence also found a swastika decorating her door.

Crimes and threats inspired by racism have existed as long as the human race has, but the fact such vandalism is making an appearance at institutions which supposedly promote higher learning can only be seen as discouraging. If universities are the training grounds for the leaders of tomorrow, there may be a problem with the program.

While it can be argued these actions are those of a random few and not indicative of the institutions at large – the fact they are out there says something about us all. It says we have not come as far as we would like to believe and to think otherwise would be to fool ourselves.

No one will contest that everyone is entitled to an opinion and the opportunity to express that opinion but when this expression is limited to cowardly acts of vandalism, nothing is learned. It becomes more and more obvious that despite the advances society has taken towards fostering acceptance regardless of race – more work needs to be done.

Events such as Western's recent Cultural Caravan are steps in the right direction which are unfortunately necessary. As sad as it seems, despite access to limitless information about equality and tolerance, campaigns are needed to teach people why we should all get along.

Race relations policies are necessary, as are University Students' Council commissioners, to promote equity and harmony. People and policies are needed to tell us what we should already know.

However, universities can only shoulder so much of the blame. Only so much can be done to educate those who refuse to be educated. Racism and intolerance are underlying societal problems which are not easily corrected but the task of correcting them must be taken.

If a silver lining can be found in this cloud of darkness, it is that this type of vandalism unearths the fact there is a problem. It is better to identify it and work on it rather than let it remain hidden beneath the surface, silently building momentum.

Now that the problem has our attention, we can work together to address it. One would expect nothing less from an institute of higher learning.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999