Letter to the editor: Petition gatherers spew hate on campus

Dear editor,

On my way to the library today a signature gatherer stopped me and asked, “Do you want Chinese to take over the country?” I thought I misheard him but then he went on to say the Chinese were trying to take over Ohio’s electric system and I could stop them by signing his petition.

I was taken aback by his comment and by the small army of other signature gatherers spewing similar racist falsehoods in the middle of Kent State University.

I’m generally a libertarian when it comes to free speech. The university should encourage different points of view. As a political science professor, I consider debate over important issues healthy, especially when I disagree with them. But dehumanizing attacks on groups of people — Jews, African-Americans, the LGBTQ community, Latinos or Chinese people — should not find a welcome reception at Kent State. It made me sick to hear such a racist attack on a group that is an important part of Kent State’s community.

Signature gatherers do more than just collect signatures; they educate and inform the public. Educating people to hate a particular group — in this case Chinese — is anathema to the mission of the university. We should call hate out when we see it.

Mark K. Cassell

Professor of Political Science