Champions don't hate

Champions don't hate

Photo Illustration CW / Kylie Cowden

We live in a time, in this country and on this campus, in which hate and negativity run rampant on social media. Whether exemplified by our national election climate, on the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange on Facebook or by everyday exchanges on Twitter, people are using online venues to propagate animosity and division.

We all have a responsibility to stand up and end this culture of intolerance and hostility on campus and in our communities. As Coach Bear Bryant famously said, “Show class, have pride and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”

The Capstone Creed calls on each and every one of us to “pursue knowledge, act with fairness, integrity and respect; promote equity and inclusion; foster individual and civic responsibility; and strive for excellence in all [we] do.” This commitment to a respectful and inclusive campus community is enhanced by the University’s new strategic plan, which aims in part to “enrich our learning and work environment by providing an accepting, inclusive community that attracts and supports a diverse faculty, staff and student body.”

These commitments to acting with respect and inclusivity are not limited to face-to-face interactions. We need to change the culture surrounding online interactions and behavior to reflect our dedication to a safe, inclusive, respectful and constructive campus community; we must embrace campus diversity online. This cultural shift will not be easy. Hate is easy. Love, understanding, compassion – these things take courage and patience.

We can and will make a difference if we work together to change this culture. We are one – one Capstone community, one family of peers and one Bama nation. If we focus on the positive things that bind us, our commonality, we will reflect a culture worthy of champions instead of a culture befitting the lowliest elements of our society. Because if not us, then whom? If not now, then when?

Our actions are the most important aspect of this quest for a more inclusive and respectful online campus community. First, as the SGA kicks off its Champions Don’t Hate campaign this week, we should all focus on understanding and compassion in our own actions and reactions on social media. Share the social media posts, and change your Facebook profile or cover photo to the respective campaign graphic. Be positive and remind yourself and others to so be by using #ChampionsDontHate throughout the year in positive posts. And remember, when it comes to hateful content online: Don’t share it. Don’t spread it. Don’t support it.

Additionally, the Crossroads Community Center and SGA will host a forum on Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Ferguson Center about best practices when it comes to responding to hate online in a constructive manner. This is a fantastic opportunity to join in this integral dialogue about changing the way we all interact on social media.

Let’s honor the many champions that have represented The University of Alabama over the years and their legendary accomplishments at the Capstone. Support inclusion efforts on campus – both online and offline. Because champions don’t hate.

Sean Ross is a senior majoring in political science. His column runs biweekly.

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