Dissolving Stereotypes: A.S. Sponsors Anti-Hate Event
The squares of white paper float in the water, drifting aimlessly in the inflatable pool. A group of students stand around, watching as a girl crouches down and gently offers her own paper to the water. The blue ink from the marker bleeds, and the hateful words scrawled on the piece of paper blur, first becoming illegible, then dissolving altogether.
On Thursday, April 18, the Associated Students (A.S.) of Santa Monica College (SMC) sponsored an anti-hate event on the main campus quad as part of Not On Our Campus week. In partnership with Title IX, an on-campus committee focused on eliminating gender discrimination, the event organizers sought to advocate for a hate-free campus.
As students walked by, members of the A.S. board called out to them, imploring them to join their fight against hate. Participants were asked to write down a stereotype on a piece of paper and place it inside a small inflatable pool. As the ink ran, the words would disappear, symbolically erasing the stereotype.
Jabria Allen, the A.S. Director of Student Activities, stood at the microphone. "We are celebrating the second event, part of Not On Our Campus week," she said. "And the whole point of this week is to say, in partnership with the police here, we won't allow…hate at SMC."
Although there were few students on the quad, the A.S. board members' enthusiasm drew several participants, many of whom added their own words to the pool and even spoke at the microphone to share their thoughts.
Two attendees, Manaal Sayed and Saniyah Shaikh, praised the event, calling it "pretty cool and inclusive." Sayed added that she believed the event would be helpful for students.
Allen addressed the crowd. "Please release your stereotype. It's a really powerful activity," she said. "And I did mine. I'll share mine. Mine was that black women are not valuable. Which is interesting because my whole life, I've heard that there is a stereotype that black people, but specifically black women…that you're not in the running for success the way that men are or the way that certain other groups of races are. So releasing that is really powerful for me."
Among the event organizers was ICC Communications Officer Nathan Silberberg, who explained that the A.S. and ICC work together to represent the student body.
“Today and this week and every single day of the year, we are standing up against hate," Silberberg said. "Even though people hate me because I'm Jewish and a Zionist, I still stand strong."
The timing of the event is especially pertinent given recent tensions between two politically-oriented SMC clubs.
Associate Dean of Student Life, Dr. Nancy Grass, commented on the matter. "This year, we've had a lot of conflict between the Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and what's nice is that we have representatives from both sides now,” Grass said. “Even with people really having this meaningful time over this SSI, SJP, individually they've been really respectful of each other.”
While the event shows progress towards SMC’s anti-hate campaign, A.S. Vice-President Hesham Jarmakani offered a more wary view.
"I think that it's a lot more complicated than that," Jarmakani said. "You just can't simply have an event and then just eradicate hate and that's it. But at the same time, you can't not do anything about it. It's a step in the right direction, but it's—you still need a lot more steps along the way."