Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.06.20
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
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1. The Charleston Gazette - Student says WVSU delayed sexual assault inquiry
2. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Colleagues Say O'Brien Is a Credit to University
3. Mail Tribune - SOU students behind anti-gay graffiti spree allowed back in school
4. Inside Higher Ed - U. of Memphis Opens Rec Center to Same-Sex Families
5. San Jose Mercury News - UCSC hosts second annual Queer Farmer Field Day
6. The Daily Iowan - Pride Festival to hit Pedestrian Mall
1. The Charleston Gazette, June 13, 2010
1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301
Student says WVSU delayed sexual assault inquiry
By Kathryn Gregory
INSTITUTE, W.Va. -- A homosexual student at West Virginia State University alleges he was sexually assaulted by two men in mid-March, but that the university delayed action and ignored the student's complaints for weeks because of his sexual orientation.
However, the university says that claim is "ridiculous" and they handled the sexual assault investigation "in a professional manner, the same way it would be handled for any student," said WVSU spokeswoman Pat Dickinson.
According to the student, the university was aware of who the two alleged perpetrators were in the March attack and one even made a confession to university police, but no disciplinary action has been taken at a university level.
"I am an openly gay guy. I do believe that if I was not a gay white man on a black campus it would have been handled differently," the student wrote in a letter to some members of the university's Board of Governors on May 23.
However, the university claims there was never a confession and not enough evidence was found during the investigation to punish anyone, Dickinson said.
"There has been no confession," she said. Further, "there are no witnesses who could corroborate the alleged incident."
Dickinson said proper procedure was followed throughout the entire investigation, which is now closed.
"The investigation into the [student's] case is completed and has been sent to the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. The West Virginia State Police have also observed the results of the investigation," Dickinson said. "[The university Department of Public Safety] Chief Joe Saunders has explained the judicial procedure to [the student] and made him aware that the case is now with the prosecuting attorney.
"Maybe they will see something we didn't see."
Assistant prosecutor Dan Holstein confirmed that the case is with the prosecutor's office and that they would be looking into it.
The student brought his complaint to campus police in April, a few weeks after he was allegedly held down, handcuffed and sodomized in March. The case was referred to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office in May, Dickinson said.
She said the cause for the apparent delay could be because when campus security could not corroborate the student's story, they called in the State Police to do their own investigation. Each investigation takes some time, Dickinson said, and officers want to make sure they do a thorough job, "especially since it's an alleged assault."
Dickinson said that although the student wrote a statement naming several witnesses to the abuse he allegedly suffered, no one was able to corroborate his story with campus police.
"Police officers interviewed them all, but there wasn't enough evidence to make an arrest," she said. "We didn't see any cause for any serious action in our investigation at this point. We didn't see any evidence."
The student disagrees.
"The witnesses are my friends and no officers talked to them," the student said. "The campus police did an investigation without even talking with any of the witnesses ... I don't know how [you] can do a complete investigation and not interview the witnesses."
The student also alleges that university officers and administrators treated him shabbily because of his sexual orientation.
"If it was a gay man that did what was done to me to a straight guy, the campus police would have arrested them right on the spot with no question asked.
"The actions of the campus police have shown that West Virginia State University uses a double standard when it comes to investigations of crimes against individuals based on their sexual orientation," the student wrote in a letter to university President Hazo Carter on April 26.
Carter never responded to the letter nor did he return repeated phone calls from the Gazette.
Additionally, meetings the student set up with various administrators, including Carter and Dr. Cassandra Whyte, were repeatedly canceled.
According to Whyte, vice president for administrative services at the university, "the allegations are being taken seriously and the alleged situation is being looked in to.
"We pride ourselves on being a campus that appreciates differences as well as similarities. We can assure you that we have not taken this complaint lightly."
When the student turned his official statement in to Coston Davis, who is in charge of judicial affairs for the school, on April 10, he said he was told that the university would not be pursing any charges of sexual assault.
"I asked why and they didn't give me a reason why they are not. They also told me that they are going to keep it at the campus level and out of the courts in Charleston," the student wrote in an e-mail to a Charleston lawyer and Delegate Sharon Spencer, D-Kanawha, on April 19.
When the student initially filed a report, he alleges, a campus security officer told him he only had 24 hours to file a complaint and wouldn't initially take the student's complaint.
Maj. William H. Porterfield, who works for campus security, said there is no time limit for students to report a crime, particularly a sexual assault.
"Any time a student reports a crime, we try to act on it as soon as possible," he said. "There is no time limit. We aren't picking and choosing what we can or cannot do."
Porterfield said when someone reports a crime, campus police will act as quickly as possible and that "sexual affiliation is not something we take into account on these things."
However, Porterfield said, some of the charges the student alleges were "hard to believe. I'm taken aback from some of the things he alleges, because I've been here 25 years, and I've never seen that."
Now, it's just a waiting game for the student.
"I just want justice," he said.
2. The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 13, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
Colleagues Say O'Brien Is a Credit to University
To the Editor:
We, faculty members at Seattle University, feel deeply saddened and angered by the treatment that one of our colleagues, Jodi O'Brien, has received at Marquette University ("Scholar Rejected by Marquette Says Her Work Is Noncontroversial at Seattle U.," The Chronicle, May 11).
All of us who work with her know how Professor O'Brien exemplifies the Jesuit mission. She has been an instrumental member of the Jesuit Identity efforts, and has placed Catholic/Jesuit issues as central to her teaching, scholarship, and in her mentorship of young faculty. She is a tremendous credit to our university. She would be a fine dean at any university.
We find it difficult to believe that Professor O'Brien was not fully vetted for as important a position as dean of the arts and sciences and that her writings came as a surprise. This is an attack on academic freedom and civil rights.
Professor O'Brien is a scholar with few equals in her field. This action was simply wrong.
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Associate Professor of Sociology
Associate Professor of Psychology
Seventy-nine other faculty members at Seattle University also signed this letter.
3. Mail Tribune, June 17, 2010
P.O. Box 1108, 111 N. Fir St., Medford, OR 97501
SOU students behind anti-gay graffiti spree allowed back in school
By Hannah Guzik
ASHLAND — Two students who wrote anti-gay graffiti in Southern Oregon University dorms will be allowed to return to school but must complete community service and live off campus, the university's hearings board ruled.
Blake Adkins, 19, and Kevin Novotny, 20, will be required to complete community service projects with SOU's Queer Resource, Women's Resource and Multicultural centers, Adkins said Wednesday.
"I appreciate the fact that they have seen the fact that Kevin and I were very sorry and that we're not going to do it again, and I'm thankful that they're letting us come back to the school," he said.
Adkins said they must also perform 25 additional hours of community service and attend a gay-rights meeting in October at the university.
If they don't complete the hearings board's requirements, they could be suspended for up to a year, he said.
They plan to return to SOU in the fall and complete the requirements, Adkins said.
"I definitely think it's a very proper punishment and it will make my life better working in other groups and doing my three club projects," he said. "I'm going to complete everything and get it done and I feel that it's definitely important to do that."
He said Novotny also plans to complete the requirements. Novotny could not immediately be reached for comment.
Adkins said he and Novotny will be allowed to return to the university in the fall but will not be allowed to live on campus as they did last academic year.
In a Daily Tidings interview last month, the students admitted to the crime and apologized for it. They said they weren't homophobic and hadn't intended to insult the residents of SOU's gender-neutral floor, where some of the graffiti was found.
The graffiti, discovered early in the morning on April 8, disturbed residents of the dorms and prompted them to hold campus meetings and speak out about gay rights.
Adkins and Novotny were arrested on April 30 and charged with second-degree criminal mischief. An intimidation charge against Adkins was dropped. They pleaded guilty on May 19 to the violation and received a $400 fine, they said. They could have received up to a $720 fine, Adkins said.
Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Inside Higher Ed, June 18, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
U. of Memphis Opens Rec Center to Same-Sex Families
The University of Memphis has agreed to let a lesbian couple (one of whose members is a senior at the university) and their children get a family pass to use the recreation center, reversing an earlier denial of the pass, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. The two women were originally told that they needed some proof of their relationship so they registered as domestic partners in Eureka Springs, Ark., but the university said that didn't count -- and Tennessee law bars the recognition of same-sex couples. Amid criticism of the policy, the university has now agreed to provide the family passes to any family that can show it is living as a family unit, regardless of legal marriage status.
5. San Jose Mercury News, June 18, 2010
750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190
UCSC hosts second annual Queer Farmer Field Day
By Bonnie Horgos
SANTA CRUZ -- A UC Santa Cruz farming event on Saturday aims to show there is more than one kind of seed-sower.
"There's this huge movement of sustainable agriculture, but it often gets put into these cookie-cutter farm lives," said Maggie Cheney, organizer of the second annual Queer Farmer Field Day at the UCSC farm. "There are so many different avenues to be able to farm."
Through agricultural activities, farm tours and demonstrations on the university's 25-acre farm, Field Day organizers hope to promote farming as a viable career in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. In addition, said Cheney, a community member who works on the UCSC farm, the organizers will demonstrate low-waste, high-yield farming methods applicable even to home gardens.
"We're here to celebrate farming, gardening and the community of queer people," Cheney said.
Organizers hope the event will bring awareness to UCSC's queer farmer community.
"There have been a lot of gay, lesbian and queer farmers who have gone through the horticultural apprenticeship in the last 40 years," Cheney said. "I think it's important to recognize that there's diversity amongst not only students, but farmers as well."
Cheney said folks should gather gloves, shovels and hoes for the event and dig right into farming. More than 50 people participated in the event's first year. Part of the farm's objective is to take people from field to table, showing the process of growing, harvesting and delivering food.
Participants can go on farm tours at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to see organic produce such as artichokes and blueberries. Future farmers can learn pickling and fermentation techniques and beekeeping tips.
Seed-sowers can share a favorite dish at the 6 p.m. potluck while drinking homemade lavender lemonade, listening to live music and watching queer farming films.
Cheney said she hoped the event would allow members of the queer community of all ages and their allies to meet each other, turning strangers into friends.
"I see it as not only an educational experience but heightening the morale of queer people and teenagers in our community," Cheney said.
The event's sponsors include The Rainbow Chard Alliance, based at UCSC. The organization is a collective of queer farmers who support each other and future queer farmers while promoting good land use and earth-nurturing farming practices. Other sponsors include the Apprenticeship Program at the UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and the UCSC Lionel Cantú LGBTI Resource Center.
6. The Daily Iowan, June 18, 2010
E131 Adler Journalism Building, University of Iowa
Pride Festival to hit Pedestrian Mall
By Gabe Dejong
Work is underway to take the Iowa City Pride Festival where it has never gone before: the Pedestrian Mall.
In previous years, the gay and lesbian celebration had been held at Upper City Park or College Green Park. Because of a scheduling conflict in Upper City Park, however — what Pride Committee Chairwoman Kirsten Plowman calls a “happy accident” — festivities this year will take place on downtown walkway for the first time.
“We are extremely excited [about moving to the Ped Mall],” said Jewell Amos, hammer in hand, as she posted “no parking” signs in College Green Park in preparation for the festival’s parade. Amos is the vendor coordinator and self-described “general handyperson” for the Pride Committee.
Festivites will start at noon on Saturday, when the Iowa City Pride Parade — the longest-running gay-pride parade in Iowa — will depart from College Green Park and follow a downtown loop, Plowman said.
Organizers said the party isn’t just for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
“The festival is to show our appreciation for the entire community [of Iowa City],” Amos said. “Our goal is to pretty much be all-encompassing.”
The move to the new Ped Mall location is a way to accomplish that goal, she said, rather than holding the event in a more out-of-the-way locale.
“We want to have the visibility so we can invite everybody to be a part of Pride,” Amos said.
Kristin Wieland, an Iowa City native and photographer who lives in Independence, Iowa, will ride her motorcycle in the parade. Wieland will also sell her photographs at a booth over the weekend.
“I’m really excited about the weekend, just to spend time with friends and family and celebrate the community that we have,” she said. “I’m mostly just looking forward to experiencing it all.”
The festival is the second since same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa in April 2009. To commemorate the Iowa Supreme Court decision, the parade will feature a float shaped like a giant wedding cake, complete with a couple who were recently married under the law.
Following the parade, speakers, vendors, musical acts, and festival-goers will converge on the Ped Mall. The Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., is set as a rain location.
The gay-rights movement in Iowa City dates back decades: In 1970, the University of Iowa Student Government recognized the newly founded Gay Liberation Front — the first time that a U.S. university officially recognized a gay student organization.
“There is a very long and rich history of lesbian and gay rights here in Iowa City,” said David
McCartney, an archivist with the UI Libraries, who will soon give a presentation at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St.
While striving for gay rights has never been easy, Plowman said, doing so in Iowa City is “a little bit less of a fight” than it would be in a different community.
“Some of our success has to do with Iowa City [being] one of the most gay-friendly cities I have ever been in,” she said.
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