We all know that diversity and inclusion are essential on campus. Many of us were even required to take courses on the subject at the beginning of the semester, however it seems many of our peers have dismissed what they learned in favor of harmful hate and slander.
Recently, students have begun using an app called Yik Yak. For those who are not familiar with this app, it is an anonymous social media app that shows posts from within a five-mile radius and it is primarily used on college campuses. Under normal circumstances, Yik Yak is full of silly comments shared anonymously. Sadly, it has become a tool used for unnecessary gossip and slander on our campus, particularly against those who use mobility aids such as canes and wheelchairs. What started as a joke became hurtful online bullying and has now extended to become dangerous public attacks and slander. I have a close friend who has become a victim of these attacks. These perpetrators had no fear of repercussions and approached in broad daylight. In a matter of moments, they went from laughing and talking amongst themselves to mocking, jeering, and insulting her for something completely out of her control. The situation quickly escalated until she was able to escape. She confided in me later that if it had not been for the daylight she felt that the situation would have become extremely dangerous and could have resulted in a physical altercation. Unfortunately, these types of situations are happening more and more frequently as the semester continues. I am extremely angry that this behavior has been allowed to continue this long and to my knowledge, nothing has been formally reported and action has not been taken to remedy the situation.
It is never acceptable to bully someone regardless of disabilities, race, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender identity. We are college students who should be committed to maintaining an environment that celebrates diversity and inclusion for our peers. No one should ever be afraid to live their lives as they see fit. It’s time that we as students of Western Carolina University stand up against the slander and support our peers, rather than bringing them down. I hope that anyone who reads this is shocked by the events that have taken place and resolves to do better. Whether the altercation is in public or online, I urge you to step in and defend the innocent. The absolute worst thing we can do is stay silent and let the situation continue. Bottom line, if you see something, say something or create a diversion so the party in question can get away. If the attackers are not stopped, they will continue to foster an environment of hate and oppression for our peers. We must band together and show them that we will not ever tolerate this type of behavior at our university.
Concerned Student and Friend