Rally unites ULV against violence

Senior Skip Sams (far right) united ULV faculty and students at a peace rally in the Quad to protest hate crimes and intolerance. They joined together to sing a song that affirmed the importance of themselves and of others. / photo by Annette Gutierrez
Senior Skip Sams (far right) united ULV faculty and students at a peace rally in the Quad to protest hate crimes and intolerance. They joined together to sing a song that affirmed the importance of themselves and of others. / photo by Annette Gutierrez

by Salina Ronderos
Staff Writer
and
Echelle Avelar
Staff Writer

“Agree to disagree” was the central theme at last Friday’s peace rally assembled in the Quad by the diversity task force. Although the rally was inspired by the alleged gay bashing involving University of La Verne students on March 29, the main focus of the rally was targeted at all hate crimes.

After a brief introduction by Harvel Lewis, coordinator of minority student affairs, the open forum was led by senior Skip Sams. He defined hate crimes as “ripping someone of their civil rights and liberty to be themselves.

“Just because you disagree about something it does not give you the right to hit. It does not give you the right to raise your fists. If you want to raise something, raise your voice,” said Sams.

Several students and administrators listened attentively as Sams spoke. Although people were interested, nobody was willing to make a statement.

“Fear. None of you are willing to come up here because you are afraid to speak up. Well, fear is what feeds the problem,” said Sams.

A passage from a play by Megan Terry entitled “Approaching Simone,” was read by freshman Lisa Manley. She explained how Simone’s convictions grew out of her love for people.

“I beg you to search for the sacredness in the soul of each person,” she said.

With a message that peace is not an empty dream, a song by Holly Near, entitled “The Great Peace March” was shared by Elena Cardeña, Catholic campus minister.

Following the inspirational song, junior Clifton Tiddle, a political science major, stepped up to the microphone. He invited the administration and faculty to “come out from under the trees and let us know why we should respect you with your Ph.D.’s.”

Dr. Ann Wichman, associate professor of sociology, took the challenge, stating that the University is a miniature of what the world actually is.

“If we could not make it [peace] happen here, how can we expect things to work out there? That really concerns me,” said Wichman.

Dr. Deborah Burris-Kitchen, assistant professor of sociology, asked a rhetorical question, “Why can’t we learn from each other?” She then suggested that the student body and faculty organize together and make a “blanket statement” to say “we don’t tolerate violence.”

Jane Dibbell, associate professor of theater arts, brought unity among the onlookers by asking everyone to join hands and sing.

Juan Pablo Miramontes, chairman of the Latino Student Forum, took this chance to bring up other hate crime experiences. He spoke of the hardships of the Latino community.

Sams stated the purpose of the rally this way: “What do we want? Peace. When do we want it? Now.”

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