‘How Much Hate Will We Endorse?’ Asks UNR Faculty Member

Oct 10, 2019

The University of Nevada, Reno has seen a recent rash of hate messages on campus. And now, some in the community are working to hold the administration accountable.

Lydia Huerta is a professor at UNR, in the Race, Gender and Identity Department. She was born in the U.S., grew up in Mexico, and moved back to the states at the age of 15.

KUNR's Stephanie Serrano sat down with Huerta to talk about her experience during this tense time on campus.

 

It's Huerta's second year as a teacher on campus. She was hired as a result of the university's initiative to diversify faculty in 2017. 

She says the job description included specific language seeking Latinx communication scholars.

"It's interesting because I would like us to see that representation more visually on campus,” Huerta said. “I think it's important for students to see people like them in the classroom as well, who they can relate to and who they can talk to."

When Huerta applied for her current position, she did a Google search of the university, and that’s when she found the university’s link to the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, as a former student was photographed at the event. 

"I was like, ‘Oh, ok. This is this kind of school.’ And I was kind of nervous actually. But at the same token, while I was cautious, I was also hopeful because that meant perhaps UNR was really invested and committed to changing the culture on campus and also in trying to figure out how to be more inclusive." 

Just this semester, the university has seen multiple incidents of hateful expressions on campus, including swastikas in a residential hall and fliers promoting a white supremacy organization. They were displayed and distributed without administration approval. 

 

University students protest the administration and a controversial speaker who attended campus.

The university sent out emails condemning the incidents, and stated that it stands against bigotry, racism and hate, but many on campus don’t feel the administration is taking enough action. 

The UNR community started an open letter denouncing hate and racism. As of this posting, more than 1,200 community members, students and faculty have signed the letter. 

"It definitely feels concerning because on the one hand, I asked myself after the El Paso shooting, for example, where they targeted Latinos and it was hate manifesto, I was expecting the university to send out or communication saying, ‘We support Latino and Latinx faculty on campus, and you have a place here or something to that effect,’ ” Huerta said. 

As a note of disclosure the license to this station is owned by the Board of Regents to the Nevada System of Higher Education.