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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Updated 4/12/2001

URI to hold candlelight vigil denouncing hate crimes

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 9, 2001 -- The University of Rhode Island will hold a candlelight vigil to denounce all forms of hate crimes on Thursday, April 12 from about 9 p.m. to midnight. Several hundred people are expected to attend. The vigil will be held inside Edwards Auditorium immediately following the lecture.

It will be held on the University’s quadrangle following a lecture by Beth Loffreda, a gay rights activist and author of "losing matt shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay murder" at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium.

The vigil is a response to the recent attack on a gay URI student who was assaulted by three men on URI’s Kingston campus last month. The assault of the student is still under investigation by URI police. The student is also a member of the Gay Lesbian and Straight Society (GLASS) at URI, which arranged Loffreda’s visit to discuss the tragedy that occurred at the University of Wyoming and compare the similar climates of other college communities across the country.

URI President Robert L. Carothers, along with other URI community members, plans to speak out on this issue. "Above all else, a university must be a place where people can speak their views and argue their perspectives free from fear or intimidation," said Carothers. "This vigil on the Quad will make that principle clear to the entire URI community."

Almost single-handedly undertaking the effort to coordinate this event is URI sophomore and East Greenwich resident Autumn Alpert. "I want the student body and the community to come together as a means to raise awareness that hate crimes still go on, and that they are no longer acceptable," she said. "I was so mortified by last month’s attack that I decided to do something about it."

Other URI community members who plan to attend and speak at the vigil are Melvin Wade, director of URI’s Multicultural Center; Mark Hardge, activist and son of the late Civil Rights activist Rev. Arthur L. Hardge; Fran Cohen, dean of Student Life and others.

Reflecting on the vigil, Carothers added: "Violence that flows from hate is antithetical to our core values. I’m proud of the students who have organized this vigil in order to say just that."

For Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116, Keith Marshall, 874-2116

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