Drexel’s Office of Multicultural Programs officially ended their 2-week-long Writing on the Wall Project Sept. 30 with a closing ceremony to tear down the community-created “Wall of Hate.”
From Sept. 16-30, students anonymously wrote how they have perceived, felt or witnessed hate on a small rectangular piece of paper meant to look like an actual brick. These “bricks” were compiled together on a poster to create a “wall” that was torn down last Friday in the gallery at the James E. Marks Intercultural Center.
“We were trying to think of some way to really infuse diversity into Welcome Back Week for new students,” Kerry Hooks, Director of the Office of Multicultural Programs, said.
According to Jess Cordisco, an international area studies student who has a work-study job at the OMP, the idea for the Writing on the Wall Project was planned after most students left campus for the summer term. She said that she looked at other colleges and universities who had their own wall of hate, in some cases an actual wall with real bricks, for inspiration.
During the course of two weeks, over 140 submissions of bricks were submitted by students, with most of them physically appearing on the wall. People were encouraged to write on the paper bricks available next to the actual wall. On one night, members of the committee responsible for putting on the Writing on the Wall Project moved outside the Handschumacher Dining Center and the Drexel Recreation Center to inform and encourage more students to participate in the activity.
A sign located inside the Intercultural Center put out by the OMP read, “The Writing on the Wall Project is a physical representation of the walls we build between us in a society of many different people. Everyone has experienced some type of hurt and discrimination in their life.”
Hooks reported that the most recurring names written on the bricks were derogatory forms of “fat,” “gay,” “retarded” and “stupid.”
Before the Wall of Hate was officially torn down last Friday, Hooks sat down with the people who came for the ceremony to discuss the various words and sentiments written on the bricks, as well as what words they had expected to see on the wall.
The group also talked about the types of comments that were made online last week when the Candid Campus photo on the DrexelOne homepage was of the Wall of Hate. Over 35 comments were submitted, some encouraging and many poking fun at the project. One of the comments was, “This is the funniest thing I’ve seen all day.”
“I thought people would respond to this better, but I guess it’s because they didn’t understand it,” Motomi Kobayashi, an interior design major, said of the Candid Campus comments.
“[The Wall of Hate] gets people talking, if nothing else. That’s what happens with diversity. Everyone’s going to have a different opinion and that’s okay,” Hooks said.