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Topic of hate speech lingers back in ASI Senate

Student government discuss the implications of creating a resolution regarding hate speech.

Illustration by Bobby Yagake

Illustration by Bobby Yagake

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Hate speech became the recurring topic of contention during the Associated Students Inc. Senate meeting on Wednesday.

In light of the racial slurs vandalised on a stall in the men’s bathroom and death threats made to La Raza Student Association, ASI senators have begun writing a reactionary resolution to address hate speech.

Senator-at-large Thulani Ngazimbi suggested taking action on hate speech after hearing about the two incidents.

“I really felt as though I was negligent that [hate speech] was affecting everyone including me,” Ngazimbi said. “What we’re trying to do…is to show students that we care about them, that none of the crimes or the graffiti that goes on flies by us. We’re at least trying to show them that we’re here for them.”

Kevin Johnson, associate professor of communication studies, discussed the legal difficulties of implementing such a resolution. One potential problem presented was that the different individuals’ definition of hate is contextual.

“If you use the word ‘hate’ in a provision, whose hate?” Johnson rhetorically asked. “Do you hate white people when you enact affirmative action…is this targeting African-Americans by being opposed to affirmative action or other racialized groups? That becomes a problem in its implementation because people form the juries. It could be implemented in different ways.”

Johnson talked about the difficulties of implementing a proactive hate speech resolution. He recommended trying to find a middle ground between having provisions targeting a specific group and being so broad that the purpose is lost.

“To draft the resolution in such a way that it’s broad enough to cover the areas that you want to in future cases but in doing so making sure that you’re addressing those exact cases that you want to regulate,” Johnson said.

During last week’s meeting, Thomas Forman, electrical engineer major, spoke out against banning hate speech in the meeting’s public comments. Although he said he did not condone the opinions of right wing idealist Milo Yiannopoulos, who has been a heated point of contention for coming to speak at Cal State Fullerton, Forman urged the senate to not stonewall controversial speakers.

“The only way to truly get across to them is to humanize them and see them as people with their own flaws, their own fears and have a genuine discussion removing politics from it,” Forman said. “They are people at the end of the day.”

The meeting also announced a revamp of Beachboard. The website and app will feature a new interface and offer a more mobile-friendly experience by allowing the posting of essays and discussions through phones.

Jonathan Huer, director of instructional technology support services, said that the lack of mobile accessibility the current Beachboard has is a primary reason for the update.

“Student surveys showed that the number one concern was access around mobile devices,” Huer said. “[We are] primarily trying to respond for the request toward that.”

Rise passes at last week’s ASI meeting

After multiple questions from senators and edits to reword clauses of the resolution, the third and final reading of Rise passed last Wednesday 17-0-5.

“Higher education is in crisis right now,” Senator Yamagiwa said. “Tuition keeps increasing and it’s going to keep increasing given the funding. We’re trying to create a student movement to make higher education more accessible.”

Now that Rise has passed through the senate, Lobby Corps, a sub-committee of ASI, will be looking at the campaign and helping it move forward on campus and in Sacramento.

Holly Bartlow contributed to this article.

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