Photo and story by Sabrina Tyson / Contributing Writer
Middle Tennessee State University student organization Stand With Love held an event inside the Student Union Building on campus Thursday to fight against hate group ideologies that are specifically targeted toward college students.
Students received pamphlets with information about the organization and were encouraged to write messages of kindness on a chalkboard during the event.
“School campuses specifically, especially with everything that’s been going on with the rallies, we’re at (a) big risk,” said Sarah Larson, a music business and public relations major and a Stand With Love co-founder.
Stand With Love originated as a project for Larson’s campaign class on campus, which teaches students how to market a campaign. However, it soon became a movement with the purpose of spreading love in opposition of hate group ideology.
On Oct. 28, a “White Lives Matter” rally organized by white supremacist groups took place in Shelbyville, about 30 minutes south of Murfreesboro. The rally was intended to move to Murfreesboro, but was canceled before it got off the ground.
There are currently 917 active hate groups in the United States. Thirty-eight of those groups are centered in Tennessee, according to Southern Poverty Law Center.
One of the main groups Stand With Love is concerned about is Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group that aims to recruit college students. Identity Evropa fliers were found in different areas on campus in October. Afterwards, President Sidney A. McPhee made a statement condemning the placement of the fliers and the group itself.
“We strongly condemn the views of white supremacist, neo-Nazi and other hate groups,” McPhee said in his statement. “While we will respect the right of free speech when exercised within the policies of the university, we will also continue to work to make our campus as safe as possible and to advance the values of our True Blue Pledge.”
With 250,000 people being targeted by hate crimes each year according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Larson stressed the importance of having movements like Stand With Love.
“We are at that point in our lives where we can be swayed one way or another,” Larson said. “So, I think it’s very important for this age to reach out and be like, ‘Hey, you should be standing with love.'”
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