Sullivan, Katsouleas condemn slur during Lighting of the Lawn's Good Old Song

Group targeted couple, LGBTQ community, statement says

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President Teresa Sullivan released a statement addressing a slur voiced against LGBTQ Center Director Scott Rheinheimer during the singing of the Good Old Song on Thursday's Lighting of the Lawn.

Celina Hu | Cavalier Daily

University President Teresa Sullivan and Provost Thomas Katsouleas released a statement on Friday in response to a slur directed against the LGBTQ community at Thursday’s Lighting of the Lawn.

Voiced by a group of college-aged males, the “derogatory slur” was targeted at a couple in their immediate vicinity during the singing of the Good Old Song, according to the statement.

Though Sullivan and Katsouleas did not specify what the particular slur was, the University has long fought to stop students from chanting “not gay” after the line “where all is bright and gay” in the second verse of the Good Old Song.

Sullivan and Katsouleas condemned the act and said such behavior had no place in the University community.

“This type of behavior is flatly unacceptable in a community of trust and is contrary to the values of the University of Virginia,” the statement read. “The singing of the Good Old Song is a wonderful tradition of our University community, done at times when we come together to celebrate our fondness for this special place.”

One of the individuals targeted was a University employee, LGBTQ Center Program Coordinator Scott Rheinheimer.

In a post on Facebook Thursday evening, Rheinheimer said he and his boyfriend left the event because they did not feel safe.

“The group behind us grabbed our shoulders and shook us while screaming the chant,” Rheinheimer said on social media. “I have never felt so hated by my own school before.”

After Sullivan and Katsouleas released their statement, Rheinheimer posted again, saying he felt supported by the community as a whole.

“Within 24 hours, I went from feeling so alone to knowing there is a vast UVA community that is stronger than any terrible chant,” Rheinheimer said on Friday.

He has not yet responded to a request for comment by The Cavalier Daily.

University spokesperson Anthony de Bruyn said that an incident report was filed and the University anticipates “further discussion on elevating the need to further eradicate the refrain.”

Sullivan and Katsouleas urged members of the community to stop the use of offensive language during renditions of the Good Old Song, and to make the University community a warmer environment for everyone.

“Please join with us in urging a return to the singing of the Good Old Song the right way, and help to make this community an inclusive and welcoming place for all Hoos and their guests,” the statement read.

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