In wake of shootings, we must promote empathy on campus


Kernel Opinion SIG

The past few days have been a whirlwind of grief.

Last week, a Louisville shooting left two dead at a Kroger and was called a hate crime. The shooter, now somewhat famously, said, “whites don’t kill whites” before being captured. He targeted African American people. And on Oct. 27, a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 people dead in what is again being called as a hate crime. This shooter targeted Jewish persons. 

In the wake of these racists and anti-Semitic acts that killed 13 people between them, including a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, we must unite as a campus community to condemn acts of hate, no matter what form they take. They are, more often than not, subtle acts of hate that we can fight against as the future leaders of our countries. We have to be watching out for opportunities to lead by example and treat others with respect. 

In a press release statement Monday regarding these hate acts, UK President Eli Capilouto advised students to “not fear difference” but to fight against fear and hate in their lives: “Senseless violence motivated by hate makes even more urgent our efforts to enable our students to meet and know those who are different; to celebrate our diversity; but also to embrace our common humanity.”

These timely words serve to remind us of the beauty in the things that distinguish us as individuals. These are not things to fear. These are things to love, respect and celebrate as American. 

It’s hard to come back to classes when many on this campus are in a daze, reeling from the loss of people they relate to. We must all come together and help bear this grief. But we must also take active steps to condemn hate and racism on our campus. That doesn’t have to take the form of cliché “heroic” actions. Sometimes, the smallest things can make a difference to promote peace and love. 

Sometimes, it just takes the form of checking on our friends to make sure their Halloween costumes are culturally respectful. Sometimes, it’s reminding someone that a popular phrase is insensitive. Sometimes, it’s agreeing to a vulnerable conversation about how a friend would like to be identified.

Whatever seemingly small things we do, we should remain mindful of each other and how our actions and words affect each other. We should strive always, and especially in times of loss like these, to lift each other up, check on our neighbors and friends and promote equality and empathy on this campus.