CRANFORD – On Oct. 21, Union County College hosted the panel discussion, “The Serious Issue of Hate Speech and Division in America.” Union’s Vice President for Administrative Services Dr. Athos Brewer welcomed to campus the moderator, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, and five distinguished panel members: New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal; Executive Director, State & Local Government Program, Georgetown Law School Meryl J. Chertoff; Former New Jersey Attorney General and U.S. Senator Jeffrey Chiesa; Former Political Director, New Jersey NAACP Walter Fields; and Former New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.

New Jersey Attorney General Grewal reported current statistics on hate crimes in New Jersey with the panel discussing the disturbing upward trend of these incidents. Panelists also remarked on hate being a learned behavior and what can be done to help young people learn and practice love instead of hate. The panelists discussed the proliferation of hate speech on the internet and how quickly it spreads. The delicate balance of first amendments rights and the protection of an individual’s freedom of speech, even hate speech, was also discussed. Finally, the issue of the media, especially partisan cable news networks, and their ability to provide neutral news coverage was covered.

“Thank you to each of the distinguished participants of this panel for enlightening our students on these serious topics that can divide individuals and negatively impact the communities where we live and work,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “As educators, it is our responsibility to bring to light sensitive issues happening in the world so our students may learn.”

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Union County College is a public comprehensive community college providing quality, affordable, accessible educational programs to the greater Union County region. It is the first of New Jersey’s 18 Associate Degree colleges, serving both career-minded and transfer-oriented students since 1933. The College enrolls almost 20,000 credit, non-credit, and continuing education students and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Many programs lead to an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or an Associate in Applied Science degree.

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