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Several students from a First-Year Seminar will lead a brown bag discussion titled “Portrait of a Hate Crime: The Matthew Shepard Story” noon today in Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall.

Free lunch will be provided for the event, which is sponsored by the Office of Religious Life and International Student Association.

Students from the course Challenging Differences: Building Community in a Diverse Society will discuss the murder of Matthew Shepard and the nature of hate crimes. Participants will include first-year students QiJie Lao (New York, N.Y.), Jacquelynn Molzon (Saratoga, Calif.), Priyanka Nair (Kerala, India), and Joanna Norelli (Langhorne, Pa.).

Led by Gary Miller, recently retired college chaplain, the class discussion over the past month has focused on how incidents like the Shepard murder in Laramie, Wyo., O.J. Simpson trial, and Columbine shootings “reveal fault lines in society or expose conflicts that otherwise might not have been as obvious,” he says.

“These incidents often happen because a community is divided and in the aftermath of these incidents,” he says, “communities can either unite to deal with those differences or they can be further divided as a result of the incident. Perhaps we can learn something about how Laramie dealt with this hate crime that will help us deal with differences in our campus community.”

Students in the diverse class have a variety of opinions on issues of diversity related to race, gender, nationality, socio-economic status, etc., says Nair.

“Via the class discussions, readings, and group projects, I have certainly become more aware and this has made me think, identify, and understand several problems of discrimination and conflict related to diversity in the world today,” she says. “Although it is hard to find one solution to several of the world’s problems, the key step is becoming aware and recognizing the existence of such problems as opposed to living in your own bubble.”

Categorized in: Academic News