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Fostering respect

In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Anti-Defamation League and Siena College partnered up on Friday, Jan. 14, to provide a venue for young people to reflect on the tenets the civil rights leader preached.

The STOP Conference, or Students Together Opposing Prejudice, is a component of the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series put on by Siena College, and involved students from all over the Capital District coming together to explore the different facets of prejudice and how to promote diversity.

This is the college's sixth year holding the conference, and it is the ADL's third year being involved.

Mechanicville High School students Austin Bryant, a senior, and Kabe McClenents, a sophomore, the activities they took part in that day taught them to think before they speak.

People are more ignorant than they should be, said Bryant. "Everybody has their own difficulties and their own problems. To harp on that and annoy them about it just adds more to their plate, which they really don't deserve."

McClenents referred to "the Golden Rule" and said it is important to think about it when interacting with others.

"Treat others how you would like to be treated and not to disrespect people for how they choose to live," he said.

Bryant said that he used to use the word "gay" quite freely and not think of the consequences that come with it, but he said now he realizes how much it can hurt and offend people.

"I kind of just used that as lingo," he said. "Of course, it means something else, and it might hurt people."

ADL's A World of Difference Institute Coordinator Kate Jackett was on hand at the conference to help facilitate the day's events. She said the organization prefers to use the word "respect" as opposed to "tolerance" when it comes to dealing with prejudice and diversity.

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