Several local institutions were officially recognized for their efforts to eliminate hate in Santa Barbara County at a ceremony Monday afternoon, and although the honorees ranged from schools to non-profit agencies, UCSB was absent from the list.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a civil rights advocacy group, certified seven Santa Barbara County institutions as part of their “No Place for Hate” campaign at a 5 p.m. ceremony held at the University Religious Center (URC) in Isla Vista. The URC, Santa Barbara City College, San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara High School, Santa Barbara Charter School, La Cuesta Continuation High School and the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara all received certificates recognizing them for having coordinated at least three activities promoting tolerance in the community, No Place for Hate Coordinator Jackie Reid said.
“The goal of the No Place for Hate campaign is to empower the Santa Barbara County community to create or obtain programming that supports individual and group differences,” Reid said.
URC Executive Director Pattie Forgie said institutions must show interest in being certified, either by contacting the ADL or by responding to the agency’s solicitations, before they are considered for the “No Place For Hate” designation. After that, each group must submit a form to the ADL explaining why it should be certified, and an ADL representative must confirm that the organization has indeed coordinated three activities that qualify it for the award.
UCSB has not been certified as a “No Place for Hate” because nobody from the university has contacted to ADL about the process, Reid said.
Bob Cornwall, former coordinator of the No Place for Hate program, said UCSB’s lack of certification is not due to a lack of interest by the university. He said UCSB’s size can make it difficult for programs like No Place for Hate to coordinate with campus organizations.
“There hasn’t been a face-to-face [meeting] with people to get it going,” Cornwall said. “[UCSB] is so large. It’s not because it’s not wanted, though.”
The ADL recognized the URC as a hate-free organization after reviewing a URC event featuring a series of 13 banners printed with the precepts of 11 different world faiths, Forgie said.
“We’re very pleased [to receive this certification] because of the recognition of work we’ve done with the URC,” Forgie said. “This certification is an acknowledgement of the work we do here at the URC every day.”
The Jewish Federation, a non-profit organization that works to provide relief to crisis victims around the world, received its certification because it hosted programs like “Portraits of Survival,” an exhibit featuring a mixture of photography and narratives depicting the stories of Jewish Holocaust survivors, said “Portraits of Survival” Director Dr. Elizabeth Wolfson.
“People have to understand we all depend upon each other,” Wolfson said. “[Fighting hate] is the most important thing we can do as a community.”
More than 20 Santa Barbara County organizations have been certified since the “No Place For Hate” campaign – established nationally in 1999 – came to Santa Barbara in 2003, Reid said, and the campaign holds biannual recognition ceremonies to honor groups that work to combat bigotry and hatred through education. Reid said she said she thinks students are the most important targets of anti-hate efforts.
“Students are the ones who can make a difference,” Reid said, “They are the future, and have the choice to make sure whether you want a peaceful world or not.”