A student-led call for unity drew more than 1,500 Huskers to a Feb. 14 “Hate Will Never Win” rally in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Coliseum.
The rally is an extension of the stance the Husker men’s basketball team made in response to an ongoing campus dialogue on hate speech. It was co-sponsored by the university’s Executive Council of Multicultural Organizations, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska and the men’s basketball team.
“The discussions we are having are bigger and more important than any hateful thoughts or beliefs,” said Alex Chapman, a sophomore music major who led the rally. “This is about a community coming together, working to change the culture of campus. It’s a huge opportunity to spread some love.”
Chapman opened the event by asking the crowd to clap, stomp and cheer if they were ready to show that hate will never win. The audience roared its approval.
“We understand how you feel and we want you to know that we have your back,” said Evan Taylor, a senior sociology major and guard on the Huskers men’s basketball team. “We are here as family. This is about us having love and respect for each other.”
The “Hate Will Never Win” slogan was launched when the men’s basketball team wore the slogan on warm-up T-shirts prior to a Feb. 10 game against Rutgers University. The women’s basketball team wore similar shirts prior to their Feb. 11 game against Wisconsin.
The slogan has since gained wide acceptance by the student body and is featured on T-shirts that are being distributed to the campus community. The shirts were funded through a private donation. Students have called for the shirts to be worn on “Unity Wednesdays” throughout the spring semester.
“Wear them next Wednesday, wear them every Wednesday,” Chapman said. “Just make sure you wash them between each wearing.”
Additional T-shirts will be available through the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center.
Ayat Aribi, external vice president of the Association of University of Nebraska Students, was excited to see so many students attend the rally on what is normally a busy class day.
“This shows you want to be a part of change on campus,” Aribi said. “There are so many other places you could have been right now, but you are here, supporting the diversity of this campus and showing that we are a special place.”
She called for students, faculty and staff to step out of comfort zones, to connect with each other to better break down barriers that allow hate speech and racism to flourish.
“Let us open our eyes and ears — listen to our black peers, our Muslim peers, our Jewish peers, our immigrant peers, our LGBTQA+ peers, our peers with disabilities, and anyone else who needs to be listened to,” Aribi said. “Let’s hear the lament, the cries and the pain of their lived experiences.”
Brianna Ridenour, chair of the university’s Executive Council of Multicultural Organizations, called for the campus community to center the discussion on positive change.
“Now is the time to focus our energies on actually creating a more inclusive and safe environment for everyone,” Ridenour said. “This is our campus. This is us seeking to transform our entire university into a safe environment that aims to improve the social climate and return the focus back to an atmosphere of learning.”
Chapman said the “Hate Will Never Win” rally is the start of something much bigger.
“We need all of you to get involved, stay engaged and continue the dialogue to spread this message,” Chapman said. “Let’s work together to make sure this university is a place where everyone is welcomed. A place where students feel safe, feel that they are heard and feel that they are embraced by this university.”