At one of the most diverse campuses in the nation, UC Riverside’s Hate/Bias Response Team has worked for the past three years toward creating a hate-free campus community. Made up of students, faculty, and representatives from a number of student services programs, the HBRT supports victims of hate incidents and hate crimes, and educates the campus about what hate crimes are and what students can do to fight against them.
Started in the summer of 2006, the HBRT convened to develop protocols for campus reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents. Student Development Educator and HBRT member Jen Miller said, “There wasn’t an event that got us started, a lot of people often think that we’re responding to some thing that happened. Instead, we wanted to be proactive and have students be aware of these resources.”
Besides creating and publicizing the protocols for reporting, the HBRT also helps organize to address larger bias incidents at UC-Riverside. One of the more common situations the HBRT deals with is when hate speakers come to campus. Protected under the university’s free speech policies, hate speakers, who mostly come from outside the school, have been allowed to engage in homophobic, sexist, and other intolerant speech. To counter these speakers, the HBRT hands out handbills describing steps students can take to protest, including ways to organize positive campaigns in response.
The HBRT is also responsible for organizing “Stop the Hate” Week, an annual event educating the campus about issues of diversity and discrimination. This year’s “Stop the Hate” Week included an art contest, educational workshops on hate bias crimes and incidents, and film screenings addressing LGBT, gender, immigration, and a host of other issues. The week also featured a screening of The Working Group’s "Not In Our Town Northern California” and “Not In R’ House,” a UC Riverside-produced documentary featuring students talking about how they can address hate on campus.
The HBRT’s work is all the more impressive, and urgent, given the situation of the surrounding community. Riverside is a city grappling with hate group activity; the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified three hate groups in Riverside and last month, seven skinheads were arrested during a warrant sweep.
Part of the strength of the HBRT comes from the involvement from so many different sectors of the campus community, especially from staff and faculty. Jen said, “I think it sends a strong message to students that staff and faculty are willing to spend their time to come out during lunch and let people know about all these resources.”
For more information about the work the Hate/Bias Response Team does, check out their website at Stophate.ucr.edu.
By Brian Lau