Carnegie Mellon University

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October 24, 2019

Hate vs. Understanding: Start the Conversation Forum on Hate Crimes

A year ago, the Pittsburgh Federal Executive Board (FEB) formed a hate crimes working group, with more than 25 members from various governmental organizations. A main objective of the FEB is to be a constructive, unifying force within the federal government, as well as the local community by facilitating valuable collaboration.

For the past six months, the hate crimes group has worked to create an event that would have reach beyond federal agencies and that would provide the Pittsburgh community the opportunity to come together to talk about preventing hate crimes and violence and how to build stronger communities by starting the conversation.

The Forum on Hate Crimes, Hate Vs. Understanding: Start the Conversation, will take place at Carnegie Mellon University on Wednesday, October 30.  

The event is directly supported by more than 15 federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"At Carnegie Mellon University and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, we seek opportunities to strengthen our communities through discussion and conversation," shared M. Shernell Smith, interim director of the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion. "CMU is a safe place to have challenging conversations because we value an inclusive community for all and we welcome the sharing of ideas with respect and understanding to all who wish to contribute."   

As the vice chair of the executive board of directors for the Thomas Merton Center, Smith is committed to the pursuit of social justice through activism. She is also actively engaged with the Greater Pittsburgh Higher Education Diversity Consortium (GPHEDC), which works to resolve the critical issues impacting diversity and inclusion in higher education throughout the Pittsburgh region. She connected with the Pittsburgh Federal Executive Board and the hate crimes working group through her work with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Awards

The Hate Crimes Forum is part of CMU's Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion programming to  celebrate and honor LGBTQIA+ history month.

The event includes morning panel discussions regarding hate crimes and how to prevent them followed by an afternoon World Café event where participants will engage in a structured conversation on how we can address issues that lead to hate crimes.

The morning panel members include representatives from:

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security / Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security (CISA)
  • Federal Protective Services
  • VA Regional Benefits Office
  • Carnegie Mellon University Police
  • Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh
  • Mission Continues

Keynote speakers include: 

  • Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard
  • Cynthia Deitle, former FBI agent and director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation
  • Dr. RaShall Brackney, chief of police of Charlottesville

This event is free of charge and open to the community.