Community rallies to stop hate crimes at University
LGBTQ members, other minority groups gather to end prejudicial sentiment in light of recent events
A number of recent hate crime incidents brought supporters of the LGBTQ communities to the Rotunda Tuesday afternoon. Events, especially in the last month, have made these protestors concerned that the University’s “community of trust” has been irrevocably violated.
Taking advantage of 70-degree weather community members called for an end to hate crimes and discrimination against gay or lesbian individuals and members of racial minority groups.
After being verbally assaulted with a racial slur on election night, fourth-year College student Taylor Gist published a letter condemning her attackers, which she read aloud at Tuesday’s rally.
“I think we need to have a discussion about why some individuals still think it is okay to harm others in our community simply because they perceive difference in the other,” she said. “This discussion isn’t just for me. The former ‘others’ will no longer be silenced, and this starts within our community.”
Reigna Beaux, an AIDS advocate, pageant queen and host of Queer Student Union’s drag bingo, gave a speech encouraging victims of hate crimes to look into the face of hate and not hide from their identities.
“We’re the victims; we’re already down!” she said. “So focus on the word ‘up!’ If you go through life and you keep your chin down … you can’t see what’s around you or where you’re going.”
Aside from the long-standing debate surrounding the “not gay” football chant, an attack on Thursday, Nov. 15 motivated by the student’s perceived sexual orientation brought hate crimes to the University community’s attention. On the night of the attack, a second-year College student was punched in the face after an anti-gay slur was hurled at him. University police released a University-wide email Saturday morning to alert students of the crime.
“When incidents such as assaults and so forth happen, situations like that elevate the ongoing challenges in our community and larger society,” Assoc. Dean of Students Marsh Pattie said. “We have a long way to go in addressing such behavior so all members of our community feel safe and secure and feel a part of the community. ”
Multiple administrators attended the rally, including Pat Lampkin, vice president for student affairs, Marcus Martin, the chief officer for diversity and equity, and Assoc. Dean of Students Francis Laushway.
Everyone — administrators, students, protestors and faculty — is looking for a way to repair what they believe is a broken “community of trust.”
“It works in principle to say that people will be honorable here … but there are too many walking wounded,” said Claire Kaplan, director of sexual and domestic violence services for the University Women’s Center. “[A community of trust] means knowing that those of us who don’t fit into some expected mold will be respected and treated as human beings just like everyone else. None of us are safe if one person isn’t safe.”