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Anti-Gay Graffiti at my school

It's all the buzz.....somebody scratched swastikas and anti-gay words on walls in a new gender neutral bathroom on the 2nd floor, and in the "energy medicine" room on the 3rd floor. The gender neutral bathroom came into being because of efforts of the Queers and Allies group on campus, and the way in which it was promoted seems to have alienated a few people. The responses to an anonymous survey revealed substantial tension around the subject, and yet this tension was publicly not addressed. I did not know until today that the creation of this restroom took away the only faculty lounge. There is a plan to have a campus-wide meeting to discuss the incident and what to do about it. I can guarantee you that the perp will not be in attendance.

In this student population the assumption is that we are all environmentalists, eat organic food, ride our bikes, are liberals and progressives, and that we are nondiscriminatory toward all people including gays, other races, genders, religions. But this stereotype of the naturopathic/Chinese medicine student is just that, a stereotype. We are all different. Some of our population are very young people who have not yet separated their values from their parents'. Worldwide the trend is toward greater bigotry and lesser tolerance.....so this is not a one time issue, this is forever, this is for life. We won't win people over to tolerance by being intolerant. I am worried that the school's efforts to reduce hate-oriented actions of all kinds may backfire. I hope not.

Recently, Dr. Schleich sent our community a letter describing the recent hate crime vandalism on our campus. AWARE and the administration is providing a facilitated forum for our community to discuss the campus climate and how these actions affect us. Randy Blazak, professor at PSU in sociology and chair of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes, will facilitate this discussion, along with Dr. Heather Zwickey.

The forum will be Weds, October 22, 2008 between 12-1pm in RI 310, during community hour. Attendance is strongly encourage for all members of NCNM.

As an update on the situation, NCNM has contact local resources, including the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as the local Hate Crime authorities from the Portland Police Department. Chief Security Officer Ross is following their procedures and recommendations in an investigation. NCNM takes these incidents seriously and want our faculty, students and staff to feel like we can all come together in a safe environment.

Below is the letter sent by Dr. Schleich to our community, in case you did not receive a copy.

Thank you on behalf of the AWARE council and administration,

Dean Cheryl Miller

--------

From: Melissa Scholl On Behalf Of NCNM President

Sent: Friday, October 10, 2008 8:35

Subject: Respect for Our Community, School and Ourselves

To: NCNM Community
From: David Schleich
Re: Respect for Our Community, School and Ourselves

I am dismayed and saddened to report that there have been two instances of intolerant graffiti discovered in NCNM's Main Campus building in the past week. The graffiti - offensive displays with swastikas, the hateful symbol of intolerance - targets our gay and lesbian community. NCNM strongly denounces all such professions of intolerance toward any member of our community - our students, staff, patients or visitors. We will investigate these crimes of vandalism and will deal with the perpetrators appropriately when we find them.

As a school of natural medicine, NCNM teaches and embodies healing. Intolerance of any kind has no place in our school or our clinics. If you have any information regarding these incidents, please contact Campus Security Chief, Jan Ross, at 503.552.2016, by e-mail at jross@nsnm.edu or in her office in room RI 125. You can also contact Facilities Manager, Keith North, at 503.552.1573, by e-mail at knorth@nsnm.edu or in his office in room RI 303. Your privacy will be respected and you'll remain anonymous.

These incidents are asking more from us than mere vigilance, however.

We live in uncertain times. The report of hate on our campus inspires me to ask all of us to examine our own hearts, looking at anything that may serve to separate us from one another. These acts remind us that our common humanity is being tested and challenged daily, in any number of ways. When the fear of difference arises, it can divide us, infecting us systemically at the core of our being.

In those moments, we are given an opportunity to remember that all of us are part of the incredible diversity that makes up our one world and - despite our differences - each of us can rise to be touched by the "better angels of our nature," as Abraham Lincoln once famously said.

I appeal to all of you to rise to the better angels of your nature in all that you do.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
kellamaste
Oct. 20th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
Just for clarification:

the second floor bathroom was going in regardless, whether it was gender neutral or not. It was actually originally slated as a women's bathroom.

When it was proposed to make it gender neutral, there was much less contention. It was the taking away of a women's or a men's bathroom that got most of the fuss at the time.
liveonearth
Oct. 20th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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