Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brody's Notes... LGBT Student Protest Underway: Goal Is To Increase LGBT Student Safety At University of Rhode Island

University Of Rhode Island LGBT Center/GSA Student Protesters
Photo From URI LGBT Center Staff 
By Mark Singer (Washington DC) SEPT 23 |  Student leaders with the University of Rhode Island’s GLBT Center and Gay-Straight Alliance are participating in a nonviolent, direct action protest to demand University administration take immediate steps to ensure the safety and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, faculty and staff.
Early this morning, the students occupied the 24-hour room in the University Library and are vigilant in remaining there until their requests for LGBT institutional support are met by college administrators.

On-campus harassment in learning spaces, common areas, residence halls and elsewhere is among several issues being protested by the students. They allege that some staff and students who have spoken out against the harassment have been intimidated into submission by the University administration.
“We have had students throwing used condoms into students’ rooms, drawing offensive images on people’s doors, and an epidemic of people yelling ‘faggots’ as they drive by the GLBT Center,” says Brian Stack, a junior and protest organizer, whose concerns are echoed by other students.
Says sophomore Justin Willner, a staff member at the GLBT Center: “The atmosphere on the Kingston campus makes it clear I am second rate and my wellbeing is not valued.”
Student leaders representing the LGBT community have met with University administrators, including Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Dougan, to discuss and implement solutions. Despite having ample time to do so, there has been little concrete progress to ensure the safety and equality of LGBT students, faulty and staff, and Dougan admits he has failed the LGBT community.
Among the students' demands are a new GLBT Center to replace the inadequate and unsafe facility currently housed in a freshman residence hall. Students also say they want an increased budget for LGBT programming – the GLBT Center finds itself understaffed, undercompensated, and without the resources needed to serve its growing community or offer workplace and sensitivity training for faculty, staff, and students.
The students’ direct action protest is peaceful and nonviolent. At all times, a door will be left open for access in and out of the room. Members of the University community, family members and the press are invited to join in the protest. Student organizers encourage other students, faculty and staff to skip their classes in protest and join them in the 24-hour room until the college administration addresses the protest concerns.
A spokesman for Campus Pride, the nation’s largest non-profit organization working with LGBT and ally college and university students, said:
“Students, faculty and staff at the University of Rhode Island have every right to demand their university administration fulfill its duties in ensuring safe climates for campus learning, living and working,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director and founder of Campus Pride. “We stand with University of Rhode Island students, faculty and staff in requesting administrators respond to needs on campus and act decisively to curb anti-LGBT bias incidents, acts of violence.”


Trab said...

What boggles my mind is how some administrator can consciously make a decision to NOT protect their own students.

Sadly, it is maybe a commentary on the whole acceptance of violence within America. When violence is more acceptable than someone being attracted to someone else of the same gender, there is a major problem. When movie and games ratings show less concern with violent depiction than with romantic or sexual depiction, there is a major problem.

Let's be clear about this; it is not so much a matter of sexual orientation as it is a matter of official acceptance of aggressive and violent behaviour towards others. That is abhorrent in society, but particularly in what is supposed to be a place of learning.