Bias incidents target LGBT community
A series of incidents primarily involving first year students and homophobic messages has aroused feelings of anger and disappointment among members of the Dartmouth community. The incidents, which have occurred over a period of several weeks, generally involve images or phrases that demean homosexuals.
According to Pam Misener, advisor to the Dartmouth Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning/Straight Alliance, "these incidents were largely messages written on doors and white boards. They were largely homophobic." One poster that was circulating in the Choates first-year dorm cluster featured a celebrity pointing outward over the phrase "you're a homo."
Misener reports that the LGBTQSA has been informed of "about half a dozen" acts that have involved sexual bias. The reports have come to the group by means of concerned students and administrators. However, she feels that the number of acts may be higher than the number of reported cases.
"Sometimes well-intentioned people see something ... their immediate response is to just clean it up. In the long term, that is not as helpful as reporting it. As with any bias incident, we hope that any student who witnesses such an incident will tell somebody."
Despite the offensive nature of the messages, Misener does not believe they are inspired by a conscious desire to demean the LGBT community.
"Most of the messages have not been directed at LGBT students. They don't seem to be directed at anyone," Misener said. She feels that the messages are largely the result of some first year students who use certain biased words and phrases without really thinking about their meaning.
The Alliance is seeking to resolve the issue through communication. The group held what Misener called "an open meeting of the community" last week in order to discuss the incidents. "That community, like any community, is interested in doing educational work," she said.