Unfortunately, ignorance plagues our society, and its ugliness can present itself at any time. Ignorance may come in the forms of homophobia, sexism, racism or simple closed-mindedness.

It’s easy to think that the people around us, in our communities, in our neighborhoods and in our schools, do not hold closed-minded beliefs. We want to think that we live in a world surrounded by kind and loving people.

It’s devastating when we learn about an incident that shows us not everyone holds the same open-minded views as us. It’s especially sad when the incident occurs within our own community.

At my previous university, there was a reported sexual assault on campus, which led to a lot of sadness and embarrassment from the student body. This was made worse when an administrator publicly dismissed the incident by saying kids sometimes get drunk and don’t behave very well.

It’s important for leaders in any community, especially universities, to validate and seriously consider accusations or concerns by the student body. Students can feel confident and comfortable on campus knowing that people care about their safety and well-being.

On Jan. 7, students on campus received an email from the Office of the President titled Racist Video Incident. My heart sank before even opening the email because the title led me to believe that ignorance had presented itself at my school, in my community.

The email stated that a racist video had been shared on Nov. 21. The president described the video as repugnant, vile and not representative of Texas Tech University.

In addition to explaining the incident, the email also outlined steps that were being taken in order to help prevent anything like this from happening again in the future.

These steps included a comprehensive review of sports club programs’ policies and management, training for sports clubs and student organizations that include Title IX, equity, inclusion and diversity, a meeting with the Black Student Association and more.

While these are meaningful and significant actions being taken by our university leader, fighting ignorance in our community, especially in the form of racism, becomes a responsibility for all of us.

My belief is that no one should have to fight against ignorance about their own group. Instead, we should all be standing up for one another so we do not have to face discrimination on our own.

For example, since I am Jewish, I hope that I do not have to stand up against anti-Semitism alone. I would hope that if someone mwakes an anti-Semitic joke in front of a group of people, others would defend Jews, even if I am not in the room.

Similarly, I do my best to defend other groups when group members are not present. If someone makes an offensive comment about another race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, I try to explain how the statement was offensive and why someone may be hurt by that rhetoric.  

Although I know it is easier said than done, we should all strive to stand up against racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other form of ignorance when we witness it. If we all work together to shut down hatred, then we can live in a more loving society.

I feel safe at Texas Tech and it is only fair that all students, faculty, alumni and staff get to feel safe on campus as well. We all deserve to be valued and included at this university.

I feel confident that we can continue pushing against ignorance so that everyone may feel equally welcome and appreciated here. I am proud to be a member of the Texas Tech community, and I am sure many of you feel the same way.

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