Media Spotlight

The NW Ohio Journal, shown locally through WBGUTV has done a series on the Not in Our Town Initiative and Forums that were held in April 2013. The most recent episode provides an update on the NIOT Initiative, which aired in October 2013. You can access the episodes in the right column.

Media Stories & Statements

Connecting with the community on a deeper level with community policing programs is a difficult challenge for many local law enforcement agencies, but the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Police Department faces an especially unique challenge – their constituency is always changing.

Chief Monica Moll was recently interviewed while over 19,800 students were just beginning classes for the 2016-2017 school year.  As Chief Moll pointed out, “it is a continuous effort to reconnect with the students.” Of the over 6,300 students living on campus, almost half of them are new to the BGSU community and they bring their own perceptions of police with them — good or bad. How does the BGSU Police Department seek to connect with students?  Through continuous outreach efforts that focus on those groups that may be most likely to have experienced discrimination or have a distrust of police officers. BGSU has embraced and been very successful in their outreach efforts through the program “Not in Our Town.”

“Not in Our Town” is a national program launched in 1995 with the mission “to guide, support and inspire people and communities to work together to stop hate and build safe, inclusive environments for all.”

Four years ago Bowling Green was struggling with how to confront acts of racism and hatred on campus and in the community.  City and university leaders joined together and adopted the “Not in Our Town” program.  However, the initiative is not merely a one-size fits all template – each community develops its own program recognizing that real change and success will only take root on a local level.  The effort took off in Bowling Green. More than 12 community organizations and over 50,000 individual pledges were behind the effort.  In June 2016, Bowling Green was recognized by Not in Our Town with a National Award for enhancing the quality of life in the community and on campus.

Chief Monica Moll is quick to point out that the “Not in Our Town” initiative is a “joint effort requiring collaboration between the community, the University, the City of Bowling Green’s Police Division, and the BGSU Police Department”. To support the movement on campus, the BGSU Police Department is active in sponsoring community forums, connecting with minority communities, participating in “Coffee with a Cop” events, and hosting forums on campus called “Real Talk with Real Cops.” They have also co-sponsored a basketball tournament with minority students and local law enforcement officers called “Together We Ball.”  The key is to connect with students and change their perception of police, and to encourage both police officers and community members to treat all views and people of all backgrounds with respect. As Chief Moll stated, the “Not in Our Town” initiative successfully ties city and university policing together.  “Students don’t typically look at the car or police patch, they see all police agencies as one, which makes it even more important to present a united and consistent message between the two agencies.”

The BGSU Police Department has many other successful community programs. They participate in the national “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual violence, and they also assign university police officers as liaisons to specific residence halls, administrative buildings and academic buildings. However, the philosophy of working together for safe and inclusive communities – the tagline for “Not in Our Town” – is what sets the BGSU Police Department apart.

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Not In Our Town BG stands with all people, nationally and locally, who grieve in Orlando.  Our hearts are broken by the loss of innocent lives and we are outraged by the fact that the victims were targeted representatives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in our society.   We acknowledge this grim reminder that there are those who feel hatred toward the LGBTQ community and display their feelings through action.

            NOIT-BG stands against all actions of discrimination, prejudice and hate, and stands firm with groups subject to such behavior.  We will support and join the vigil planned for Wednesday June 15 at 7:00 pm on the community “greenspace” at Grove St. and Wooster St.  As we extend our thoughts and prayers to the City of Orlando, and those grieving around the country, we give voice to our continuing vision of an inclusive, respectful community here in Bowling Green.

Dear editor,

            “Not In Our Town BG” (NIOT-BG) is an organization that invites our community to stand against discrimination and prejudice targeting any group for any reason.  Thus, we stand utterly opposed to recent negative language, and any other negative behavior locally or nationally, toward our Muslim neighbors.  We feel our most appropriate response to recent national/international terrorist events is to stand alongside those whose beloved religion is being defamed.

            We believe that diversity in Bowling Green is a gift - an opportunity to create a deeper and richer community.   Last spring NIOT-BG created an interfaith breakfast at Simpson Garden Park.  The building overflowed as representatives of major world religions spoke on “Building Paths To Peace.”  We are organizing a second interfaith breakfast, for March 22, with a design team from a wide range of faith traditions, including Islam.  In addition, on Jan. 27 and Feb. 9 we are offering community conversations on the “Islamophobia” which has surfaced locally and nationally.   The details are on our website.

            Such events help us all keep our eyes on a common goal, validated by thousands of signatures on our NIOT-BG banners, of creating a community in Bowling Green where actions of hatred, discrimination, and prejudice against any group are to be found…not in our town.

Rev. Gary Saunders
Leslie Galan Sautter
Co-chairs, Not In Our Town BG

NIOT BG joins with and stands with the citizens of the world who are appalled by the terrorist attacks in Paris. Our core principal is to challenge all acts of hate and discrimination, and we abhor the murderous attack on innocent people as a means to express political beliefs. In addition, we stand with Muslim voices and leaders worldwide who are repudiating any connection of the attackers to the religion of Islam. Terrorism is terrorism and has no valid religious base. NIOT BG promotes a community with a full diversity of religious beliefs, and we value our Muslim neighbors as respected partners in the BG community. Finally, NIOT BG encourages expressions of grief and mourning to the people of Paris and the families of the victims, even as we stand strong in our belief that acts of hatred and violence belong “Not In Our Town” nor anywhere in our world.

Last night, NIOT BG and the rest of the country heard the news coming from Ferguson, Missouri, where a Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The events from Ferguson have touched all of us in some manner. We understand that for many in our community, this is a difficult decision and there is a lot of frustration, pain and anger.  We also understand that for others in the community, this was the right decision. In our town and on our campus, we believe all opinions can and should be expressed freely and peacefully.

NIOT BG is here to work closely with both Bowling Green State University and the City of Bowling Green. We are not here to pass judgment, but rather to ensure that we can come together as a community to address the issues brought up by the events in Ferguson.

In the end, the goal is:  how can we continue to develop and build positive relationships amid our diversity so that such events are more and more unlikely “in our town? In order to do this, we need to be coming together and engaging in honest and open dialogue.

NIOT BG wants to promote avenues for all members of the community to come together to talk about the issues raised in Ferguson. We understand that efforts are currently underway in different circles to bring the community together both locally and in the surrounding region.

Examples of Upcoming Discussions:

Bowling Green State University

  • #‎Ferguson 2.0 - Discussion and Dialogue Series Continued, Sponsored by Access Diversity and Inclusion Programs

  • Monday December 1st – 4 to 6pm -- Union 308 (open discussion and dialogue with student affairs staff)

  • Tuesday December 2nd- 5:30 to 7pm – 318- B Math Sciences (Hosted in conjunction with “We Got Each other”)

  • Wednesday December 3rd - 5pm to 7pm – 318-B Math Sciences (Ethnic Student Center Dialogue Series)

  • Thursday December 4th - 5:30pm to 7pm – 318-B Math Sciences (Hosted in conjunction with INTERSECTIONS)

  • Monday, December 1st: The BGSU Student Chapter of the NAACP will be holding a discussion at 7:30 p.m. in 314 BTSU.

NIOT will also support venues for discussion in the community of BG, and will publicize them as they arise.

The BG/BGSU Not In Our Town (NIOT) group hears the concerns of the BGSU students who have expressed their feedback about being targeted by the harmful words of the traveling preachers on campus.

We value and respect Freedom of Speech, but when the speech is hurtful and harmful, this crosses an unacceptable line in our community.

We encourage members of the BGSU and BG community to join us in condemning this rhetoric and to reiterate that these actions do not represent the values of BGSU nor of the greater Bowling Green community.  We support non-confrontative responses expressing opposition to these, and any, speakers whose impact is harmful and targeting to members of the Bowling Green Community. 

Our core mission is to create spaces for all community members to feel safe and appreciated. We encourage people and organizations to display messages that are in line with our collective values in private and public spaces.  It is important that those who feel marginalized and offended by these hate messages see and hear messages of inclusivity and respect that reflect our values.  While it may not be possible to keep these individuals from spreading these messages in our community, we can be sure that their messages are drowned out by messages that more accurately portray our community.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESPONDING

NIOT is committed to responding to individuals and/or groups that spread hate within our community. We strongly urge that individuals respond in non-confrontational ways to these traveling preachers and others that may be spreading hateful messages. It is an individual choice, but we want to ensure that whatever action that you take is done in a legal manner in order to avoid violating anyone’s rights.

Based on feedback generated in different areas, here are suggested tips for ways to respond:

  • Share Positive Messages – shirts, signage, physical actions (singing, acting, spoken word)
  • Don’t get into an argument with these individuals
  • Silent actions – silent protest, shield others from the hateful messages
  • Counter the negative messages with positive information
  • Do not attempt to completely surround the speakers
  • Do not attempt to block the speakers
  • Do not touch any speaker

If you feel threatened or harmed by any of the messages that these individuals are sharing, please reach out to the appropriate offices on the campus – the Counseling Center, Campus Police, Dean of Students Office, Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office for Equity and Diversity.