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Over one thousand hate crime were reported on college campuses in 2017. The rate of hate crimes on college campuses grew by 70 percent the same year.

The rate of white supremacy propaganda distribution on campuses also increased by 77%. These hate crimes are rooted in racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, islamophobia, and other prejudices. It is the responsibility of every member of a university to be proactive to create a space that is safe for students of color. It is not enough to just punish the perpetrators of hate crimes after the fact, it is important to prevent these things from happening in the first place and to create an environment that is safe for marginalized students. But, this responsibility is particularly heavy on counseling faculty and students. These professionals, and future professionals, have the proper knowledge and training to create a more nurturing and inclusive environment.

There are many steps that counseling faculty can take to improve the environment of both their classroom and the entire school. The authors highlight the duties of the counseling faculty of the school as personal reflexivity, modeling, and intentional pedagogy. Personal reflexivity is actively reflecting on your own personal biases and checking them to make sure they do not interfere with your work. Modeling is engaging in open dialogue about issues and setting a good example for fellow faculty members and students to follow. Intentional pedagogy is making curriculums as inclusive as possible and creating learning spaces in which students feel comfortable discussing things that may feel uncomfortable, i.e. racism and prejudices. It is important for counseling faculty to support and advocate for students, and to make them feel safe and comfortable. It is also important for counseling students to actively participate in making their campus safer for all people. The article says that it is the student’s responsibility to also help to facilitate open discussions in the classroom and with their peers on campus. Both counseling students and faculty can collaborate to make the campus a more open and inclusive place.

It is important for counselors to seek out ways to help marginalized people within their communities. It is not enough to just make themselves available for marginalized people to seek them out for help, counselors must be actively trying to seek ways to help people. The article lists ways that they can help: “Attending town hall meetings, volunteering with community organizations, writing letters to legislators, voting, and holding office space for leaders to meet and have discussions” Most importantly, it is important for counselors to support each other and to hold each other accountable for any biases they might have. Counselors need to collaborate and collectively advocate for marginalized people in order to create an environment where people do not feel welcomed to commit these hate crimes.

It is always important for counselors to let go of ego, but this may be most important for counselors who are working on campuses that are experiencing issues with racism. In this environment, counselors play one of the biggest roles in helping to create a more inclusive and welcoming space. To do this, counseling faculty and students must let go of their ego. They must be able to recognize their own implicit biases in order to work to change them. They also must be willing to admit when they have made a mistake. Rather than try to justify any mistakes, they must be willing to admit their mistake, apologize, learn from them, and grow from the situation in order to become better advocates. They must also be willing to learn from others and take everyone’s experiences into account. They must be open and willing to take lessons and criticism from other people. With all of these things in practice, counselors are able to make a real difference on campus and can be successful advocates for marginalized students.

By: Jessa Harrington