Dane County high school students spearhead ‘United Against Hate’ campaign

McFarland and Deerfield high schools have started chapters with student ambassadors.
Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 4:05 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 4, 2020 at 5:36 PM CST
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DANE COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - The We Are Many-United Against Hate organization added two new high school chapters committed to supporting the anti-hate mission.

The student ambassadors in each chapter are starting conversations about racism, hate, and bigotry.

Deerfield High School students say there is a lack of diversity in their community.

“Definitely being from a small school out in the middle of the country is hard for us to connect with a bigger community,” said Deerfield student ambassador Wesley Christianson.

Deerfield Middle and High School principal Brett Jacobson says the students reached out and expressed an interest in starting a group that promotes equality.

“We’re really excited to see our students take the initiative to start a group like this,” said Jacobson. “Deerfield is a small community, but the world is becoming a smaller place.”

Deerfield Student Ambassador Jade Collar says preparing to meet new people from different backgrounds is a crucial part of higher education.

“We would really like to see them take what they’ve learned from our schools and even the community and take that and apply it to the future,” said Collar. “They’re going to be faced with more diversity in the world so I think learning it now will help for what’s to come.”

At McFarland High School, Valeria Vayserberg started a petition to have administrators address online hate speech.

“Basically to get them see that their words have just as much meaning in an online setting as in an in-person setting,” said Vayserberg. “It looked like a lot of those students felt empowered by the fact that they didn’t see us face-to-face and in-person.”

Vayserberg says she didn’t like the anger and strong reaction from some of her peers.

“It’s taken a longtime, but the more people we can get, the more confident we’ll all feel,” said Vayserberg.

Both Vaysberg and classmate Hannah Rounds are United Against Hate student ambassadors for McFarland High School.

“We’re trying to teach our students and our community to listen for understanding rather than to listen for reasons to disagree,” said Rounds. “Creating unity and equity, not just in our school but in our community and country.”

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point also has started a ‘We Are Many-United Against Hate’ chapter.

For international students, like Tala Allan, it was a welcoming site to see a group like this form.

“I felt like it’s a great way to share the different backgrounds that we all come from because not everybody is from the same place,” said Allan.

Student Chapter President Yazeed Allan says seeing younger students be willing to make change gives him hope for the next generation.

“I’m really excited to see what these students can bring to our communities and our schools,” said Allan.

To learn more about the organization, click HERE.

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