Hate victims remembered

By Sandra Emerson

The Pride Center’s Hate Crime Memorial, displayed in University
Park last week, encouraged students to ask themselves the question:
What is hate?

The memorial was dedicated to victims of hate crime violence and
current hate crime legislation. It was aimed toward groups
discriminated due to their sexual orientation and gender
identity.

The Pride Center aims to educate the student body about gay,
lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people through special events
and programs around campus.

The display was put together by Marlene Blanco, a third-year
psychology student; Gissele Holliman, a fourth-year criminology
student; and Brian Blandin, a fourth-year business student.

“The purpose is to raise awareness,” Blanco said.

The memorial consisted of three boards that depicted those who
died due to hate violence, current hate crime legislation, and a
place for students to write their own definition of hate.

“We want people to write what they think hate means to them,”
Blanco said.

Holliman, an active member in the events and displays put on by
the Pride Center, likes the idea of involving students in the
memorial.

“This year we wanted something more interactive,” Holliman said.
“A lot of people are writing when we’re not here. We leave the
board by itself and when we come back a lot more is written.”

Holliman also took part in the mock wedding on campus Oct. 4 and
views the Pride Center’s efforts of hate crime awareness to be
representative of Bronco pride.

“The purpose of the Memorial was to inform people that hate
crimes are still happening and should be better covered in the
media, and to educate people about current hate crimes
legislation,” Holliman said. “People die for who they are.”

The boards depicted Matthew Shepard, 21, and Sean William
Kennedy, 20, who were brutally murdered for being openly gay males.
A third victim, Gwen Araujo, 17, who was murdered for being a
transgendered female, was also represented.

Jennifer Vargas, a fourth-year psychology student was shocked to
read the information displayed in the hate crime memorial.

“I thought it was appalling to see what people are capable of,”
said Vargas. “It’s unfortunate that people are so closed-minded to
not be able to value someone else’s life.”

According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Web
site, federal hate crime laws do not cover those targeted for
violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Only 31 states provide hate crime laws that include violence
against individuals because of sexual orientation or gender
identity. Four states do not have hate crime laws of any kind.

The Matthew Shepard Act, formally called the Local Law
Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was proposed to Congress
with the intention of including violent crimes against individuals
because of their sexual orientation or gender identity under
federal hate crime laws.

Currently, hate crimes against individuals because of their
race, color, religion, ethnicity and national origin are
included.

The House of Representatives passed the bill in May and the
Senate passed it Sept. 27. Despite being approved by Congress,
President Bush threatens to veto the bill due to a belief that it
is not necessary.

Hate victims remembered

Matthew Zu

Hate victims remembered

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