Safety is all the rage these days, and at Illinois State University, it’s the evident talk of campus.
The school recently endured an incendiary incident. As relayed by an editorial in student paper Vidette Online, it involved a painted word:
On Sept. 28, [queer people] once again fell victim to being the butt of some cruel and heartless joke when members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity at Illinois State University spray-painted the F-slur on one sorority and one fraternity on campus.
The culprits were punished, but that isn’t enough:
While the members involved with the acts were kicked out of the fraternity and Kappa Sigma discusses with the university about what to do moving forward, students are furious.
“Homophobia should have no place at ISU,” the editorial insists. “The individuals most impacted by the use of those slurs should feel safe on campus.”
The prank has provoked an online appeal. Just before the start of November, ISU student Jakai Martin launched a Change.org petition on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender peers. According to Jakai, a culture of on-campus hatefulness has peaked. He aims to squash it via a trio of demands. At issue is safety — not the actual kind of old, but the sort associated with emotion:
Recently, queer hatred culture on campus has reached an all-time high, and queer students are no longer feeling safe on campus.
Jakai’s imploration is three-fold. He calls for the following:
- More counselors for student counseling services, along with the addition of a telehealth resource for students
- A designated safe space for LGBTQIA+ students
- A public apology from [President Terri Gross Kinzy] for neglecting queer students
A feeling of safety is certainly contemporarily sacrosanct:
Periodically, it appears “safety” is a stand-in for “agreement.” And disagreement is sometimes synonymous with “hate”:
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) March 24, 2022
Back to ISU, President Terri Gross Kinzy posted an October 17th video in light of the Greek gaffe. Her message, in part:
“In recent weeks, people have reached out to express concern, fears, and anger in response to anti-LGBTQIA+ comments and actions. Let me be clear: These behaviors are the antithesis of the core values of this University. … The University takes reports seriously and follows up to review and investigate, in consultation with offices like Student Conduct and Community Responsibilities, campus and local police, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access within the Office of the President. In addition, the University offers resources and support to those who were directly or indirectly impacted through numerous offices across campus, including the Dean of Students office, Student Counseling Services, and when appropriate, Human Resources. Every member of Illinois State University carries the responsibility of fostering an environment of respect and care that is integral to learning and growing.”
But per the October 19th editorial, there must be more:
We need to back the LGBTQIA+ community as members take on this heavy task of explaining why and how these acts were harmful and reeducating the community.
ISU needs to listen to and not just hear queer voices.
We need to listen to queer voices.
As for the mandates of both the article and petition, beyond counseling, ISU already does a lot.
From Campus Reform:
ISU also has multiple designated “safe spaces” for its students. The Multicultural Center houses a “Green Room” for students to “spend time in silence.” There is also a “Reflection/ Prayer Room” for students to “spend time in quiet reflection.”
Additionally, Student Counseling Services has a “Relaxation Room” to provide students in therapy a “safe and comfortable space.”
And the school made headlines in March for its emphasis on sensitivity:
University Makes All Graduates Pass a DEI Course, Claims Students Asked to Be Forced
— RedState (@RedState) May 21, 2022
Still, progress is perpetual. The Change.org initiative has racked up 2,903 signatures.
Will ISU do more? It seems more than likely.
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