Chanting “No hate, no fear. Everyone is welcome here,” the coalition Kutztown Resist marched on Kutztown University’s campus Feb. 16 in response to a national hate group posting propaganda on campus.
Kutztown and Berks County community members, KU students, faculty, staff and KU President Dr. Kenneth Hawkinson joined in the Solidarity March hosted by the newly created student, faculty and community member coalition Kutztown Resist.
“I think it’s wonderful that students and supporters of students have come together to speak out against hate and hate groups,” said Hawkinson. “It’s my hope that this inspires the students to not only speak out at rallies but also in their daily lives.”
“I think it’s great to celebrate being part of the KU community and for students to show love for all students, faculty and staff,” added Dr. Warren Hilton, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at KU.
Kutztown resident Maggie Stange, a summer 2016 KU graduate with a professional writing and pr degree, joined Kutztown Resist and assisted with organizing the Solidarity March. She explained that the Kutztown Resist coalition was created after white supremacist national group Identity Evropa placed recruitment flyers on campus.
“We need to show we have no place for hate on our campus, nor bigotry or discrimination,” said Stange. “I hope that the students realize how unified we are here and how the community is even coming in together with us. It’s a really great thing to see the town and gown issues are falling aside because we all care about the same issues.”
Kutztown Resist member Kylin Camburn, a KU junior communications studies major, said on Feb. 8 students, faculty, community members gathered to create Kutztown Resist and organized the Solidarity March.
“We all decided something had to be done to address the general movement of hatred in the country,” said Camburn.
According to the Kutztown Resist release, “Kutztown Resist endeavors to represent a broad spectrum of social causes and organizations. Kutztown Resist is a participatory coalition of students, faculty, and community members voluntarily organizing in Kutztown to stand against institutional and systemic oppression. We fight against campaigns of bigotry and hatred on our campus and in our larger community.”
While saying Kutztown Resist is not against free speech, Camburn said the recruitment flyers were pulled down. She said to combat the message of the flyers is also free speech.
“It is important to address the fact that hatred is not acceptable.”
Camburn believes it is important to have solidarity for everyone in this country regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
“I think it’s important that they know they have a place to come,” said Camburn. “They have a community here that loves them and want them to feel safe.”
Fleetwood resident Brydee Farmer and Hamburg resident Lori Peters were among the Berks County community members to join the Solidarity March.
“We stand against hate,” said Farmer. “We are here in a show of support for diversity and tolerance.”
“I’m frustrated with the whole mood,” said Peters.
“Hatred and division, we are tired of it,” added Farmer.
The march left from behind Schaeffer Auditorium during the free hour at 11 a.m., and continued through the center of campus and stopped on the steps of Academic Forum where there was a speak-out during which community members, students, and faculty made statements.
KU APSCUF President Amanda Morris, a KU professor, said, “This campus is our community, our home away from home… We are the body that is this public institution welcoming all who are looking to learn, to expand horizons, to make a better future.”
Morris said all students, faculty, staff and coaches have the right to walk across campus and through buildings without fear. Responding to Identity Evropa placing recruitment flyers on campus, Morris said, “They do not deny this identity as a white nationalist, white supremacist, alt. right group. They have made it clear on their social media accounts recently that they will be back.”
Morris said the KU community needs to stand together, continue to resist and protest.
“Say something, do something, speak out. It works,” said Morris. “As faculty, we will not let neofascism to be normalized,” said Morris, and then shouted, “Not in our house!”
Adanjesús Marín, director of Make the Road Pennsylvania, said Make the Road Pa was on campus because the racists do not want them there.
“We know that their hate is actually the road map to our victory over them. We know that when we unite, every single group that they are attacking, we are the majority and we will beat them,” said Marín. “This fight is not just a fight that is happening here… but in every corner of the state and every corner of this country.”
Announcing a message to those who want to put people in fear, Marín said, “We are here out in broad daylight, standing up for what we believe, standing up for our resistance, standing up for our unity, standing up for equality. It’s all fine and well for them, in the dark of night, to hide and put up their flyers, but their little flyers do not compare to this.”
Marín said they will continue fighting and will have victory.
KU student Jeremy Rios Griffin, of Take Back the Tap – Kutztown University, was glad to see so many people participate in the march.
“Kutztown really needs to resist,” said Griffin. “We have to change the world because if we don’t , no one else will.”
Griffin said that while many said it was too cold to march and nothing would happen, he said, “Right now, I’m looking at a very unified group of students, professors, faculty members, and I’m glad to say Kutztown right now is ready to resist.”
Kutztown University Black Student Union President Maya Ida Wilson talked about the difference they are making at the Solidarity March.
“We are not the same race, the same gender. We are not all from the same backgrounds but we are standing here for one thing that is important to all of us and that is where change happens. This is such a beautiful thing,” motioning to the crowd standing in front of the steps of Academic Forum. “It’s so hard to be able to get people to unite on this campus and finally we have done it,” said Wilson. “You now we must be aware of the prejudices that we have been bombarded with for all of our lives. We see it. Now we can dispel it.”
Wilson said they are all special, no matter what differences they have.
“You are still loved no matter what God you are worshiped by,” she said. “We as Kutztown University students have come together, and thank God we have… There are so many different people who are fed up and tired and done. And now that we are all standing together, we will make that difference. We will make that change.”