Letter to the Editor Monday’s podium gathering was out of line

 

The following was submitted as a letter to the editor and was 

revised for clarity and grammar but not content. 

The content of this letter does not represent the viewpoints 

of the Albany Student Press staff. 

 

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Dear Dr. Jones

I would like to submit a formal complaint against the University Police Department and University Administration for their failure to enforce the University’s Code of Conduct at an anti-homosexual congregation that was held outside the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center on September 30, 2013.

On the date mentioned, a group of men set up a podium on campus grounds and during the course of their dogmatic presentation announced, “homosexuality is wrong,” “God wants you to burn,” and, “your days are numbered.” Feeling threatened by their comments I was advised to contact the University Police Department. After describing the situation to the responding officer, I was quickly dismissed and informed that “It’s freedom of speech and there is nothing they can do, but an administrator was already there.” However, Appendix A of the University

Code of Conduct states:

“No person, either singly or in concert with others, shall…Take any action, create, or participate in the creation of, any situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers mental or physical health.” Furthermore, “A person who shall violate any of the provisions of these rules (or of the rules of any individual institution supplementing or implementing these rules) shall…If he is a licensee or invitee, have his authorization to remain upon the campus or other property withdrawn and shall be directed to leave the premises. In the event of his failure or refusal to do so he shall be subject to ejection.”

It is evident that there is protocol outlined in the Code of Conduct that enables the University to intervene in situations such as this, yet no such action was taken.It appears that the University Police Department and the administrator who was standing by improperly used their discretion in handling this situation, a mishandling that seems dangerously close to discrimination. Students, especially those most vulnerable to discrimination, rely heavily on administration and other school officials to adhere to and enforce policy that protects us while on school property, yet in this instance the protection we are entitled to was systematically denied. Our tuition dollars pay for these services, and it is disheartening that we were unable to utilize these services at a time when they were necessitated by circumstance.

While on the subject of our tuition dollars, it appeared as though their microphone was plugged into an outlet near the fountain, which stands to reason that students who were being verbally assaulted were paying for the tirade that lasted well over two hours.

In light of these events, I can say with confidence that I no longer feel safe on the University at Albany campus for two reasons; (1) individuals are permitted to occupy space on our campus and make cryptic threats toward homosexuals, and (2) there was no meaningful recourse when administration and appropriate authorities were notified. We no longer live in a time where these types of statements can be taken lightly, but the University Police Department and administration barely acknowledged them in this situation.

Being from a marginalized group, there is no worse feeling than feeling as though you’re just like everyone else, then in an instant, you are reminded that you’re anything but. The irony is almost too much to bear considering the event in question took place on a campus that boasts about Harvey Milk, “Champion for Gay Rights,” being a former student. I wonder how Mr. Milk would have felt knowing that when it truly counted, his alma mater revealed its true sentiments regarding gay rights? Thank you very much for your time and consideration on this matter. Have a nice day.

Regards,

Michael Starr

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