With a few days until the election, things are a bit charged out there and some people are being made to feel very uncomfortable, intimidated or threatened because of their political views. I have not heard of this being a big issue within our lovely Wildlife Society but you may be experiencing problems with other people around campus or in the wider world. (I am assured there is a world outside Keele… Who knew?!) So, I am reaching out to you about what is and is not acceptable and to let you know how to access support if you feel you need it.
No belief is ‘wrong’ - everyone has different backgrounds that influence their mind-set and priorities. The tricky bit in our society is differentiating between free speech/having a voice and hate speech.
Beliefs are a protected characteristic which means no-one can be discriminated against for what they believe, including their political affiliation. Threatening, insulting or belittling others for their political beliefs is a hate incident or hate crime and #NeverOK.
What to look out for:
- Physical, verbal or online behaviours, or written materials, that:
- incite hatred or violence
- are slurs or threats, including those excused as ‘jokes’ or ‘banter’
- are disrespectful
- are discriminatory.
- Hate crimes are criminal acts. They include physical assault, harassment, theft or property damage.
- Hate incidents are not criminal acts. They can include verbal abuse, online abuse or name calling based on a protected characteristic.
What to do about it:
- Ask for support – so easy to say, so hard to do but it’s there and there to be used. Support can be from Security, ASK, the SU Welfare team, any of the Hate Crime organisations or anyone else you trust. See https://keelesu.com/advice/hateisneverok/victimhelp/
- Diffuse the situation – e.g., change the subject, walk away if you feel threatened, or intervene if you see someone else being victimised (note, only intervene if you feel safe to do so or let someone else know who might be better placed to intervene if you are worried – your welfare is crucial so don’t let one problem become two).
- Report it – same list as can offer support above!
Here’s a great article about what to do if you do experience a difference of opinion with someone: https://young.scot/get-informed/national/what-to-do-if-your-friend-has-a-different-opinion-to-you
So, my message is:
- you have every right to your own opinion.
- while others have the right to challenge your views, they do not have the right to belittle, insult, demean or threaten you. That is #NeverOK.
- we all have a duty to respect and tolerate the views of others.
- it seems so basic, but before posting anything or commenting on anything, ask yourself how you would feel if it was the other way round and someone said, did or showed that thing to you. If you wouldn’t like it, chances are it’s not OK.
If you’ve got this far then thank you! Any problems, do let me or one of the contacts above know.
PS – Please do vote on Thursday! It’s a huge decision but an equally important one. We really are lucky to be able to vote (even if we are getting a lot of practise at them in the last few years!). Good luck everyone!