Clarksville, TN – Earlier this week, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Office of Equity, Access and Inclusion launched its new “That’s Enough!” campaign, aimed at challenging hateful and hurtful speech that occurs on campus, in the community or anywhere in the world.
“When a campus member – faculty, staff, student or alumni – makes a comment that is hurtful to others on our campus and in our community, we need to respond by saying, ‘That’s enough!’” LaNeeça Williams, APSU chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator, said in an email message to campus.
“These are delicate encounters because many of us want to right a wrong in a profoundly meaningful way. At Austin Peay State University, we shouldn’t allow these painful encounters to continue anymore. With this campaign, ‘That’s enough!’ will be our standard response to racist, homophobic and sexist remarks,” stated Williams.
Hate speech is a growing issue in the U.S. and across the world. Earlier this year, major social media companies such as Twitter and YouTube became more aggressive in restricting this type of rhetoric, and according to Bloomberg News, “Facebook Inc. removed 22.5 million posts for violating the company’s policies around hate speech in the second quarter, more than double the number taken down during the first three months of the year and up from just 2.5 million posts two years ago.”
The rise of hate speech has even alarmed officials with the United Nations, prompting Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to launch the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech in 2019. In his foreward to this strategy, Guterres writes, “Hate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability and peace.
As a matter of principle, the United Nations must confront hate speech at every turn. Silence can signal indifference to bigotry and intolerance, even as a situation escalates and the vulnerable become victims.”
At Austin Peay State University, Williams said the “That’s Enough!” campaign provides campus members with the tools to help keep them from remaining silent.
“‘That’s Enough,’ said in a different way, means that no amount of unkindness or bias is acceptable,” she said. “Instead, as soon as a GOV hears a derogatory comment, they should say, ‘That’s enough!’ Using words to put someone down is unacceptable, and we should all spend more time addressing remarks like these when we hear them either through discussion or reflection.”
According to the campaign, someone speaking in a hateful way may react by saying, “I was joking.” Williams said this is merely an excuse, and even if someone is joking, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for what they said.
If someone responds, “I didn’t mean to say it that way,” Williams said this creates the opportunity for an important conversation.
“The point is that the comment was made, and it’s vital to help the individual understand why it’s wrong, no matter how they said it,” she said. “A conversation can become a meaningful teachable moment.”