United Against Hate, April 2

In September 2022, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the launch of a nationwide initiative to combat unlawful acts of hate. On April 2, that initiative comes to the Stetson campus.

The United Against Hate community outreach program — leveraging all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices — aims to improve hate-crime reporting by teaching community members how to identify, report and help prevent hate crimes, along with building trust between law enforcement and communities.

United Against Hate shares resources to combat hate and encourages discussion among representatives from law enforcement, community organizations and the Attorney’s public. The emphasis is that people should report hate-fueled incidents local law enforcement and the FBI. 

Roger Handberg, U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Florida – Orlando Division

On April 2, the Stetson University Center for Community Engagement is hosting the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida – Orlando Division, led by U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg, to conduct a training session to help combat hate crimes. The training will teach community members how to identify, report and help prevent them. 

Held at The Warren and Barbara Carr Stetson Room in the Carlton Union Building, beginning at 6 p.m., the training is hosted in partnership with the West Volusia NAACP and the Volusia County African American Leadership Council

Part of Stetson’s Mission

“We recognize that we are living in very divisive times in our society, and that is manifesting through political conflicts and social conflicts of all sorts,” commented Kevin Winchell, director of Community Engagement at Stetson’s Center for Community Engagement. “Stetson has a mission that’s not only an academic mission, but also a civic mission to inculcate the habits and skills for engaged and constructive citizenship to address these challenges that face our communities.

“We have a responsibility both to our students and to our community at large to serve as a convener for these conversations. And we know this work doesn’t happen solo; it requires everybody bringing their assets and resources to bear to make it happen. To that end, we’re thrilled to partner with the NAACP and the Volusia County African-American Leadership Council to extend this work across our community.” 

Along with community members, Winchell anticipates attendance from Stetson students, faculty and staff, particularly from students in faith-based organizations, cultural organizations, Greek organizations and social justice groups. The event will feature Cultural Credit for students, and is free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged, although not required, through this form.

Common Initiatives

In addition, Winchell cited two other current initiatives on campus that neatly coincide with the United Against Hate program. 

Kevin Winchell: “This work requires everybody bringing their assets and resources to bear to make it happen.”

Better Together Week at Stetson, slated for April 8-12, is a celebration of interfaith cooperation when students of all faiths are encouraged to gather together in fellowship. It’s part of a national campaign. Numerous events are planned on campus, led by Stetson’s Interfaith Values Fellows and the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life. Follow @stetsoninterfaith on Instagram to get the latest information on Better Together Week.

The Central Florida Pledge is a regional call to action for residents seeking to create a safe and inclusive community for all. The Pledge asks residents to commit to treating all people with kindness and respect, especially those with whom they disagree. In late February, leaders across Central Florida representing city and county governments, law enforcement agencies, business, religious groups and college campuses — including Stetson — gathered in downtown Orlando to sign the Pledge.

During the April 2 United Against Hate training on campus, Winchell plans to have a Pledge signing ceremony for attendees, with the Ginsburg Foundation providing 100 Stetson-themed Pledge T-shirts as giveaways. 

“These [initiatives] all reflect Stetson and our communities,” Winchell concluded. “We have deep interest in building bridges and connections and relationships between people who may be different from each other, so that we’re able to work together and then solve the most pressing challenges facing our communities. That’s Stetson’s mission, and that’s the objective of many of the organizations with whom we’re working as well.”

Note: For more information about United Against Hate on campus, contact Kevin Winchell at [email protected].

-Michael Candelaria