U.Va. sees rise in hate speech following presidential election

Photo by Erin Edgerton
Photo by Erin Edgerton
Photo by Erin Edgerton

Instances of hate speech at the University of Virginia have increased throughout this semester according to the Minority Rights Coalition at U.V.A., particularly during the time leading up to Election Night on Nov. 8.

In an effort to combat the growing tension on campus, students from the Minority Rights Coalition, Black Student Union, Indian Student Association and other student groups came together to create the “Eliminate the Hate” campaign.

The campaign, which ran from Nov. 4 to Nov. 18, garnered support from more than 50 student organizations and faculty members. Its organizers came together to host a series of events including a silent protest and “teach in” where faculty members spoke to students about the legality of hate speech and free speech practices guarded by the Constitution.

Rawda Fawaz, the head of the teach-in committee, said the goal of the campaign was to have the community understand the challenges the minority population on campus has faced since Nov. 8.

“It’s more about minorities occupying space and having a loud voice,” Fawaz said.

Fawaz said she was victim to a hate crime on campus this past September when three white men drove by yelling death threats and racial slurs at her.

The men pursued her until she found shelter and called her friends. She wasn’t harmed, but reported the incident to the University Police Department.

“I can’t be silent. I wanted to make sure that people know that I am not okay with this,” Fawaz said. “I want people to know that this isn’t normal for an academic institution.”

Fawaz isn’t the only organizer of the campaign who has faced hate speech on campus.


Attiya Latif, chair of the Minority Rights Coalition at U.Va., said she found the word ‘terrorist’ scrawled across her dorm room door on Nov. 6.

“I didn’t sleep in my room for a week because obviously this person knew where I lived,” Latif said.

These two incidents are only a small portion of a series of racial, religious and ethnic discrimination to take place on U.Va.’s campus.

The campaign has been documenting incidents on their Facebook page for the past two weeks and have received complaints of homophobic slurs and anti-semitic vandalization.

Other documented incidents include the word “nigger” being written on a student’s dorm room earlier in the semester and a monkey hung from another student dorm with a noose around its neck.

According to a press release sent from UPD, one police officer resigned after yelling “make America great again” through the police car’s PA system at a group of disgruntled students the morning after election night.

Members of the university’s administration have attended some of the events during the two-week campaign but have yet to address the student body in regards to incidents of hate speech on campus.

“The administration has demonstrated that they are listening and I want them to take what they’re listening to and turn it into something productive,” Latif said.

The campaign came to a close after a final march and occupation of the Rotunda.

Latif hopes the student body and the administration will take the concerns voiced during the campaign seriously.

“They need to think about what they picture the larger conversation about diversity and safety look like on this campus,” Latif said.

UPD and University Communications could not be reached for comment.


hibaheadshot-1Hiba Ahmad
Hiba is a senior studying broadcast journalism and religious studies. In addition to writing for the CT, she is the campus editor-at-large for the Huffington Post, a blogger for MuslimGirl.net and president of United Muslim Relief at VCU. This summer, Hiba interned with the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, D.C. She previously interned with Voice for America and as a web content intern for VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.
Facebook | LinkedIn | ahmadh@commonwealthtimes.org


  1. Do Jews run the world?

    Who controls Hollywood, Wall Street, the media, and the US government?

    Who calls for Middle Eastern wars?

    Why should the US go to war with 1.6 billion Muslims to protect 14 million Jews?

    Why can people criticize the Pope or Freemasons, but anyone who attacks the Jews are called trolls, bots, shills, spammers, nutjobs, or racists and are censored, banned, get IRS audits, are arrested, or killed?


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