On Oct. 24 in Jefferson, Ky., a white man killed two African-American senior citizens in a Kroger’s after being locked out of a black church he originally targeted. Three days later, an anti-Semite entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 Jews. This was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history.
When tragedies like this happen, it’s impossible to tell students to simply forget about them when they enter a classroom. However, professors also have a finite amount of class time, and not every class directly relates to these tragedies.
It’s one thing to talk about these shootings in a politics or history class, but it’s entirely different to talk about them in a physics course. Is it necessary that all professors spark discussions about these events in class? The Foghorn thinks yes.
The synagogue and Kroger’s shootings are particularly jarring and require special attention. They were fueled by right-wing hate, which requires a discussion, especially considering that these acts of violence happened against the backdrop of the midterm elections. These are different from more isolated mass shootings, as these two acts are part of the larger problem of the rise of racism and anti-Semitism.
The two shootings should be spoken about in every class, no matter the subject. This is a school for global education. We have to care about events that we may not be able to directly relate to. We have to be prepared, as a community, to be able to speak about these topics, as gruesome and tragic as they are. The subject of a class does not determine whether or not the students in a classroom will be affected by a violent event. A Jewish student in a statistics class is equally as likely to be affected by the synagogue shooting as a Jewish student in a politics class.
Only good can come out of classrooms discussing and processing these tragedies. When a professor chooses to speak about a tragedy with students, it also helps students feel more comfortable speaking about difficult subjects in class. The Foghorn isn’t asking professors to dedicate half their class to talking about these tragedies, but it’s not right to ignore what is going on in our country.
These recent tragedies targeted some of the most vulnerable people in our society. There are members of many marginalized communities on campus who could be personally affected by right-wing violence. Talking about these events in class could help those students process them.
Not only does talking about these events help those who are personally affected, but it also helps students who might not understand the deeper significance of these tragedies. It is important that as many students as possible know about what happened. Just as there are many marginalized students at USF, there are many who can be happily ignorant and may not necessarily have to be in tune with what’s happening.
It was a very hard week for many, and it’s unfair to expect everyone to be able to mentally push that aside when they go to class. When hate-fueled acts of violence happen, professors should dedicate just a little bit of time in their classes for students to talk about them.
In 2018, people are still dying from hate. There is no excuse to not confront these events.