USM leaders joined with more than 20 religious and civic leaders Dec. 7 to declare the school's campuses and its communities to be "a hate-free zone."
"The choice is between creating chaos or building communities," said Reza Jalali, a local Muslim scholar and coordinator of Multicultural Student Affairs at USM. " It's about faith or fear, light or darkness, love or hatred."
People packed the AREA Gallery at the Woodbury Campus Center as people from so many faiths -- Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and others -- were represented with short remarks. They asked people to treat one another with kindness and respect.
USM President Glenn Cummings joined the discussion, vowing to join efforts to fight hate.
"There are two things we know about hate. If you don't confront it, it gets worse," he said. "The second thing we know is that you can't be as successful when you're alone."
USM Student Body President Humza Khan also joined the discussion, quoting the Quoran and encouraging people to believe that kindness and love can prevail.
"We can continue to protect our values and we can continue to prosper as a community," Khan said." We won't be overtaken if we continue to stay together."