By Nick Amon–
We should have a discussion. Despite a campus-wide email, it seems like no one knows about—or cares about—another instance of discrimination on campus.
A close-minded Banksy wannabe spray-painted a derogatory message geared towards the LGBT community alongside the Red Barn, home of the LGBT Center’s Intersection, during spring break.
The message? A disgusting “Die f**gs” was plastered near the entrance of the center, and U of L officials have been attempting to soften the blow ever since.
This whole ordeal obviously wasn’t intended to highlight the artist’s graffiti skills, but showcase their ignorance instead.
Now what? Besides the fact that the unknown vandal is probably watching the media coverage and getting a huge kick out of it, there’s more to be seen here. U of L has continuously—and passively—dealt with racist and discriminatory situations alike in the past few semesters. U of L’s blanket response regarding diversity and acceptance continues to fall short of anything substantial. Administrators attribute this distasteful painting up to “just a few bad eggs,” and it doesn’t satisfy me.
There’s hateful people on campus. There’s hateful people all over the world, and I hope to God you’re not naive enough to believe there isn’t. Although this is all painfully obvious, this is in no way, shape or form an excuse for the university to turn a blind eye. It should not stop with filing a report with U of L Police and sending out a campus email.
If we attend a university that pledges to create a sanctuary for diversity and acceptance, then let’s see it. Let’s start a conversation about diversity instead of using it as promotional buzzword for incoming students. It’s one thing to have it typed up in an introductory paragraph on the university’s website, but it’s another thing for it to actually be something real.
In a university-wide email on March 23, Interim Provost Neville Pinto said, “One of the notable outcomes of our efforts is that U of L has been cited as the most LGBT-friendly university in the South and among the most supportive in the nation.”
This line came across as ironic to me as I was reading the email, and I couldn’t help but dive a bit further into what I assumed the intentions behind it really were. Pinto paints the situation in the email as a despicable act of cowardice, yet I found it odd he would try to detract from the situation shortly afterwards by referencing an accolade U of L received and turn it into the email’s outgoing sentiment.
It’s obvious Pinto wanted to counterbalance any fears students may have over the matter. Which is a good sentiment, I get it. But what screamed even louder to me after reading that statement was the realization that although U of L has been cited as the most LGBT-friendly university in the south, I can guarantee you this will not be the case the next time around due to our latest encounter with the unknown graffiti artist.
The last little sprinkle Pinto put on top of that email sounds good when you initially read it, but look at it for what it really is, and I doubt it’ll sound as good the second time around.
Breaking away from all the cynicism I’ve tossed around on the subject, I spoke with current U of L senior and member of the LGBT community, Zach Fisher, to see what his opinion was on the matter.
“I think it’s extremely sad, but more so eye opening that homophobia and hatred like this is still around even in 2016,” Fisher said. “People should really put themselves in other’s shoes before doing such outlandish actions.”
Fisher then went on to express optimism towards the situation by concluding, “I have a lot of faith in my fellow classmates here at U of L, and I think we can easily overcome any act of hate, no matter what.”
Resilience is definitely something I’d agree the U of L student body has. Our university has to start holding individuals more accountable for acts of hatred and discrimination. As a heterosexual male, I acknowledge that I don’t feel the weight of these issues as much as someone from the LGBT community does. However, I do understand that without addressing these problems head on and opening up discussion, we’re standing aside doing nothing.
Diversity and acceptance? I’m sure the majority of us, including the university, are all for it. But it’s time to stop using diversity as a buzzword and actually care.