By: Michael Ray
When psychology Prof. Bethany Lewis had her students post anti-discrimination posters in Horace-Mann Hall, she expected a positive reaction from Rhode Island College. What she and her students did not expect, however, was to find KKK paraphernalia attached to these posters. “It worries me that a plea for tolerance resulted in at least one person’s effort to do the opposite,” Lewis said. The anti-tolerance message was found by two students in Lewis’s class. Attempts to track down the culprit have been unsuc- cessful, and there is not enough evidence for Campus Police to get involved. The course Lewis was instructing, titled “The Psychology of Race, Class, and Gender,” teaches how a person’s quality of life can be affected based on race, socio-economic status, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. The student-made posters promoted tolerance for all individuals re- gardless of race and ethnicity, class, gender and sexual orientation.
“They are excellent examples of the typical RIC student’s desire for acceptance and equality for all,” said Lewis. At the beginning of the semester, students were told to monitor a hate site of their choice, and that later they would be responsible for making a professional- looking poster that promotes tolerance. On Thursday in the first week of April, after the class completed the tolerance posters, they were taken to the psychology department in the lower level of Horace Mann, where they were hung up by the students who made them. However, the informational brochures about the Ku Klux Klan were attached to the posters by an unknown culprit. Whether meant to be a joke or not, students were taken aback by this discovery.
“While it saddens me to think someone felt the need to deface these posters by taping their own message onto them, I believe this person is the rare exception among our student body,” said Lewis, stating that she believed most of the student body is passionate, committed and informed. After this troubling incident, students in the class dared to question: is there really tolerance at RIC?