By Suzanne Samin
A & E Editor
When I read Ohio Wesleyan’s slogan, “the opposite of ordinary,” I interpret it as a statement about our diversity and unique opportunities in both education and service.
To me, it says that our university, our campus, is a place where people of any race, religion, creed or walk of life can find acceptance.
It says to me, “We are not a box.” There is no “ordinary” OWU student, no exclusive “type” that defines us as a whole.
Given this message, it comes as a great disturbance to me that our campus could be a place where anyone would feel unwelcome – that anyone would be discriminated against, violently or otherwise, for who they are or what they believe.
Earlier this month, I caught wind of an unfortunate incident involving a student who had been harassed and assaulted on our campus for something I truly believed we accepted at Ohio Wesleyan – being a member of the LGBTIQA community.
Given our very active PRIDE group, our Spectrum Resource Center and the number of resources available to LGBTIQA individuals on campus, I was deeply disappointed, and, frankly, depressed to hear that a man associated with one of our fraternities on campus had thrown beer bottles at this individual, while yelling anti-gay slurs.
While the appropriate measures have been taken, and formal charges are in the process of being filed, I still cannot fathom the implications of this hateful act for our community.
Given our commitment to diversity, interdisciplinary connections, and cultural understanding, we should be completely and utterly ashamed, as a whole, that this is a plausible event on this campus.
Take a second to consider this: not only did someone choose to physically harm someone for being perceived or identified as homosexual, but also there were people there who laughed.
There were people there that stood by and did absolutely nothing: your classmates, your friends, your Greek brothers or sisters.
These were people whom you pass every day on the JAYwalk who perpetrated this crime, or allowed it to happen.
Being silent and being inactive is a form of perpetration. When it comes to discrimination of any kind, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
We boast a plethora of beliefs at this university: religious, political or otherwise. Some of these beliefs do not accept the queer community.
However, the fact that a crime such as this could transpire here goes against everything that I, in my three years at this university, felt that we stood for.
No one should feel entitled to push his or her beliefs onto others. The persecution of others for living their lives is inexcusable.
Those actions are not the sort this university endorses and I, for one, will not stand for them.
When events like this happen, I have to ask myself how many more events or discussions we need to have to get this across to our students and faculty.
Everyone on this campus, and I mean absolutely everyone, should feel ashamed and responsible for these kinds of attitudes continuing to exist here at Ohio Wesleyan.
I know I certainly am.
As a member of the Women’s House, I am saddened, but also motivated – because this is further indication there is so much more to be done.
The bubble of acceptance and equality on this campus is a gift I, and other students here, have come to appreciate.
Those of us who are part of the SLU community, or any other equality organization, have been reminded we are not anywhere near finished in generating discussion and change on this campus.
Our bubble has burst.
For those who had seemingly nothing to do with this incident, I encourage them to deeply examine how they treat others, and how they respond when they witness others being mistreated. It is our responsibility as a student body to change and grow for the better – and every action and reaction, no matter how small, makes a difference.
For those who were there and did nothing, I hope you have given it thought and have found some sense of accountability.
I hope you have examined why you accepted the events unfolding, or why you did not do something to stop them.
I hope you eventually let go of whatever guilt you may have in exchange for motivation to cause change for the better.
I cannot say I know how to even begin addressing those of you who committed this crime.
All I can say is the anger I have expressed in writing this is not hatred aimed at you, but towards the attitudes you exhibited. To hate you, or anyone, would be to go directly against my own cause.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is hate is an ordinary thing that happens every day – on college campuses and city streets alike.
Hate is an ordinary emotion that fuels thousands of actions. However, we create the climate of this campus and we have the ability to change it.
It starts with changing our problematic attitudes individually, and then reflecting that to others. Slowly but surely, it can make a difference.
If we are going to call ourselves “the opposite of ordinary,” then we must live up to it.