This past Friday, somberly on the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a large gathering named OneWheaton took place in the Dimple so that that students and administration could discuss the hateful acts that took place nearly two weeks ago.
These hateful acts consisted of the 3rd and 4th floors of Meadows West dorm being plastered with various handwritten hate posters, such as racist remarks, xenophobic threats, and swastikas. The gathering was regarded by those who spoke and watched as a unifying and uplifting experience that ultimately called for serious change and action.
Speakers at the event included President Hanno, Dean Kate, senior student Kweku Ampem-Darko of the Intercultural Board, and various students and faculty members who decided to speak.
Many of the speakers talked about how this act was not representative of Wheaton, and addressed how important unity was during this time.
“This is not the Wheaton I know. This is not my Wheaton. [The real] Wheaton is an inclusive community which welcomes everybody,” said President Hanno, as he also cited how proud he was of the global diversity that exists at the school.
Ampem-Darko, the Chair of the ICB, kicked off the student discussion with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. as he said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Ampem-Darko encouraged students to help prove that Wheaton is unified as one.
Jewish sophomore Jessica Chaikof spoke about the hateful flyers, as she said, “I’ve experienced hatred…I’m going to tell you all what my parents told me, ‘these acts can’t be forgotten, but you show them that you’re much stronger than they make you out to be.’”
One recurring topic was about making sure the gathering was not just a singular unifying event. Most speakers acknowledged that there needed to be consistent action to make sure discrimination or targeting at Wheaton would not happen.
Avi Anshika of the senior class said, “Don’t be indifferent about this…Create a community for those who haven’t settled down yet.”
Many other students touched on topics such as the Words That Hurt Campaign, the Wheaton Honor Code, the respect among students, the idea that food in the dining halls should never be labeled as ‘oriental’’ and the fact that this is a hate crime to discuss, not ignore.
Wheaton currently has not officially acknowledged the acts as hate crimes. Additionally, it was noted by students that the event seemed eerily similar to an act that took place during the 2012-2013 school year, in which anti-Semitic vandalism was written on a Jewish house here on campus.
Due to the nature of the disgusting acts that occurred, some of the speakers were both heated and passionate. The debate as to whether each specific poster’s placement was arbitrary or intentionally targeted toward specific students was not a topic of the gathering.
“This is more of a reaction for those who were hurt,” said Dean Kate in response to whether or not the specifics of the incident were going to be addressed.
Ultimately OneWheaton, more than anything, called for change to occur and showed the individuals who committed this atrocious act that the bond between students will strengthen in times of dismay. In addressing how Wheaton must react moving forward, President Hanno said “We need to build on this. We cannot let this be one rally and then let it die.”