Students at North Central College have observed Anti-Hate Week for more than ten years. This year, students, faculty and staff worked together to raise awareness and increase acceptance of all people.
Anti-Hate Week 2010 started off with a screening of a documentary called “The Anatomy of Hate: a Dialogue of Hope.”
When senior Elizabeth Michellitti came across a press release that said members from the Westboro Baptist Church was coming to North Central from Topeka, Kansas to protest the documentary, she wanted her chance to protest the anti-gay protesters. So she created a Facebook group, and invited hundreds of students and faculty to counteract the church’s hate with love.
“The message that Westboro Baptist Church is bringing is just so horrible, so aggressive,” said Micheletti. “I think it hurts every single person. They really protest against everyone and everything, I think that’s why there’s so many people here.”
More than four hundred students, faculty, staff and even some community members joined forces on campus and created an army of love.
“By hating them back is just doing exactly what they want,” said Senior Grant Swanson. “So love is the key, that’s where it’s at. Love one another, love them.”
“I was raised to love everyone equally,” said Junior Victoria Wagner. “I think what they’re doing, going around hating on everybody for their differences and being ignorant about it, it’s just wrong. It’s not what religion stands for.”
Faculty at North Central say they were proud of the way the students banded together.
“When I first heard they were coming to protest the ‘Anatomy of Hate’ I was nervous there would be a tepid or lukewarm response on campus,” said Steve Macek, a Communications professor at the college. “But as you can see there are going to be literally hundreds of students, and also community members, faculty and staff turning out. I was just very proud, I’m happy I can be here.”
“We want to have a positive statement; we want to have love and unity as our theme,” said Lynn Pries, North Central College’s campus chaplain.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church didn’t show. But that didn’t stop the 400 plus gathered; they continued singing and cheering before watching the documentary.
In addition to protesting, students raised nearly $120 in donations for the Trevor Project. It’s a national program that focuses on the prevention of suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.
That donation will be matched by Levi Strauss and Company.
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