Trail

Students of University of Pittsburgh at Bradford walk on the Richard E. McDowell Community Trail behind the Pitt-Bradford campus.

Hate Has No Home Here is more than a slogan, it’s a promise that all people are equal and will be treated with dignity and respect.

In a recent incident on the Richard E. McDowell Community Trail behind the campus of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, two white males accompanied by a child reportedly called an African American female a derogatory racial term. The campus police are investigating.

Discrimination of any kind cannot be tolerated, Pitt-Bradford officials stressed.

“Our entire country has been going through a racial reckoning,” acknowledged Dr. Catherine Koverola, president of Pitt-Bradford. “Globally, there have been protests about racial inequities. People of color in our country, there’s a consensus that there’s racial injustice and that’s being protested.”

However, the faces of hate are many.

“Discrimination of any kind, for race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, all of those things — we don’t tolerate them,” she emphasized. “Pitt-Bradford, as part of the University of Pittsburgh, stands very firmly.

“These are difficult times that have been accentuated by the COVID pandemic. People have been separated from loved ones, the things that usually bring us comfort.”

There have been other reported incidents of hatred on campus, and toward Pitt students away from campus, Koverola added.

The Hate Has No Home Here campaign is an effort to bring the Bradford community together with the campus, to send the message that hate of any kind isn’t welcome.

On Wednesday, members of the community are invited to a trail walk with members of the Pitt-Bradford community — students, staff and faculty. there will be a gathering at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Fitness Center on Campus Drive for the “Hate Has No Home Here — Pitt-Bradford Claim the Trail Walk.”

Pat Frantz Cercone, Pitt-Bradford spokesperson, said the purpose of the walk is, “To send that message that the trail needs to be safe and comfortable for everyone. We know that through the course of the year, thousands of people walk that trail. We want to make sure that all of those people can walk and enjoy the trail freely and comfortably.”

While the university officials didn’t say the trail was unsafe, they advised that people should always walk in pairs. Wildlife uses the trail, too.

Rick Esch, vice president of business affairs at Pitt-Bradford as well as a representative of the Tuna Valley Trail Association, said, “When kids go away to college, in all cases, part of the orientation, whether it’s a rural campus or an urban campus, we advise them to travel with friends, whether they are going out to their car at night or going into the community. I would say there is a concern, but it is the same kind of concern that all people have going into different environments. I recommend the same thing to my wife and kids.”

Dr. David Fitz, who heads the Hate Has No Home Here campaign at the university, as well as being vice president of institutional integration and community, said students have been subjected to hate for various reasons.

And the members of the community who have embraced the campaign show that they want to be part of a solution.

“They want to see a change in our discourse toward other people,” he explained. “We need to move beyond on all that and see each other as human beings and respect their dignity as human beings.”

He addressed the McDowell Trail and it’s path through peaceful woods.

“The trail is a place of respite. It’s a sacred place,” he said. “For someone to use derogatory language toward another is profaning that place.”

He added that the campus community — and he hopes the Bradford community — want to change that.

“We would like to claim with the community that that is not where it occurs — and that it shouldn’t occur anywhere,” Fitz said. “We want everyone who goes on the trail to be enriched, uplifted, to have their soul satisfied.”

Koverola added, “At Pitt-Bradford we are emphasizing whole-person learning. We are emphasizing for students their physical well being and their emotional and mental well being is a key piece of their development as adults.”

In a letter sent out to students, Koverola outlined other steps that the university will be taking as soon as next week.

Beginning Monday, and until the fall semester, there will be trail patrols between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Forums will be held regularly for students, faculty and staff to talk about ways to mediate and mitigate known incidents of racism.

As for the walk on Wednesday, Fitz said masks must be worn. The walk will be from the fitness center to Clarks Lane and back, about 1 mile in total.

“We want to get as many people as possible involved.”

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