Thursday, June 9, 2016

Defending the Vulnerable in Our Workplaces Schools and Communities

Last fall, in the face of several disturbing incidents on the Fordham campus, students, faculty and alumni came together to launch a "Zero Tolerance for Racism" campaign to defend the values of our community and let members of vulnerable groups know they were not alone. The great thing about this campaign was how broad based it was-including students with no history of activism along with athletes and campus leaders. It also crossed the political spectrum including Republicans and conservatives as well as Democrats and liberals. It gave people a chance to stand up for the kind of university they wanted to be part of, a university where all people were honored and welcomed
As the Presidential campaign threatens to take an ugly turn, with riots and protests possible at campaign rallies, and rhetoric targeting individuals and groups on the basis of race, religion and nationality already being aired, I think it may be time to organize committees in workplaces, communities and schools to make sure that no vulnerable people are targeted for violence or harassment.
The goal is simple: to prevent the political passions triggered by this Presidential race from poisoning the atmosphere on the ground to the point where people attack their neighbors, co-workers and fellow students.
In normal circumstances, I would not say such committees are necessary, but these are not normal times. I suggest that people quietly reach out to friends neighbors and co-workers to see who is willing to step up to keep things from getting out of hand in local communities and institutions.