Everyone deserves to live in a community free of prejudice and fear. This is the mission behind the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights' "Hate Stops Here!" campaign for hate-free communities in Sonoma County. Since September, a team of dedicated students and staff, led by Sonoma State University Residential Life Coordinator Corey Seemiller, has worked to implement the hate-free community campaign in the residential community at the university.
The importance behind this campaign came out of several factors. First, Sonoma County has been a target for several hate crimes and hate incidents in the last few years. This campaign was designed to educate community members on detecting hateful behavior and stopping it before it reaches a level of violence. Secondly, with hate crimes becoming more prevalent recently (the death of Matthew Shepard, etc.), communities are taking a stand and saying, "Not in our community." Lastly, the key to this program is prevention. "We at SSU should not have to wait until a senseless violent act takes place to deal with this issue. Stereotyping and prejudice occur all around us. This campaign was created to educate people before an incident occurs and let them know that it is not okay where we live and work to make comments, jokes, or participate in inappropriate behavior that makes others feel threatened, marginalized, or unwelcome," according to Seemiller.
The Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights and the Office of Residential Life at SSU have collaborated to implement the Commission's
"Hate Stops Here!" campaign in the residential community at SSU. Forty-five students and staff members have been trained to present hate crime information to residents and have all signed pledges to formally and informally educate residential community members on hate issues. They have collaborated to form a campus organization called Daring to Reach Equality Among Many (DREAM). According to Morozumi, "The Commission on Human Rights is very excited to have SSU and the Residential Community on board. They believe it is a first for residential communities to take this neighborhood approach."
The campaign includes having the 45 students and staff members facilitate workshops to educate students living in residential suites and apartments about hate crimes, reporting procedures, and prevention. Each student who attends a presentation is offered the opportunity to sign a pledge to be "hate-free" and receives a button that says, "Hate Stops Here!" If every member of an apartment or suite attends a presentation, the residents also receive a bright red decal that says, "Hate Stops Here!" to place in a window of their suite or apartment. The purpose of this is to visually create a safe space for students, show that hate is not acceptable in the community, and also let other residents know where they can go to get information on and references to places on campus that can help them if they feel victimized or have questions regarding hate issues. If 75% of a building attends a presentation, the building will receive a sign for the outside that says, "This is a hate-free community."
The goal at SSI is to get out the word: "Hate Stops Here!" and educate one student at a time. Contact Corey Seemiller, Residential Life Coordinator at (707) 664-3711 for more information about the "Hate Stops Here" campaign.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News