Jessica Kalny (words) and Mike Wayman (photos), two students from my Intro to Grad Studies in English seminar this semester, collaborated on the following report.
On October 7, 2008, a man named “Jim” obtained permission to enter campus for the day. He has been visiting several SUNY campuses to spread his message. However, it is not the kind of message that one would want to pass on to the next generation. His message was one of intolerance, particularly against the “typical college lifestyle” and homosexuals.
Rather than responding with violence or cruelty, over 2,000 students and faculty members of Fredonia State gathered together to protest his bigoted message. When you consider the fact that there about 6,000 students and faculty members total, you can imagine how big this event truly was.
Having been there, I can tell you that it was an extremely powerful scene. To see so many peers coming together to prove that intolerance is not acceptable. We did not show any disrespect towards Jim, and I’m sure that he expected us to. As a campus, we wanted to show him that it is not right under any circumstance to discriminate against any group of individuals.
After a number of students spoke their minds about this topic, the percussion guild showed their support by playing several songs which many of the students danced along to. I can honestly say that this protest made me proud to be a part of such a tolerant campus community.
For more on the spontaneous protests, check out coverage in the local newspaper. Here's one of the many youtube clips that went up soon after the protests:
[Update 1 (10/30/08, 8:11 pm): My old sparring partner The Objectivist sees the protestors as the agents of intolerance here. And there's a vigorous debate on the faculty listserv I may comment on later.]