Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Queer students say harassment has increased"

The Western Herald Monday published an article with the following headline.

Queer students say harassment has increased
The article begins:

A recent string of queer bashing incidents on Western Michigan University's campus has left some students wondering how welcome they are.

The number of verbal and physical attacks on the gay community have increased this semester compared to previous years, said Maggie Walters, president of OUTspoken.

"A lot of people know we're a gay-friendly university," Walters said. "We're known for being really open."

Walters knows of 20 to 25 students who have been verbally or physically assaulted this semester, none of which have resulted in an arrest. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are more prominent on campus and gays are feeling more comfortable coming out, which could be a reason for the increase in gay bashing incidents, Walters said.

This article raises many questions.

Does this article count as verbal harassment?

Is there some sort of continuously updated website that we can check to see what words constitute 'hate speech' and which are harmless 'terms of endearment'?

What is "verbal assault"? Yelling at someone? Saying you don't like her outfit?

Should "verbal assault" and "physical assault" really be in the same category? How many of the 20 to 25 incidents are actually physical assaults?

Imaginary headline: "Huge increase in number of prank calls and car bombings"

If there are physical assaults, why haven't they been prosecuted? Is Walters saying that "verbal assault", aka free speech, should be prosecuted?

Can the, um, students in question document anything like the vandalism on the College Republican office, destruction of thousands of flyers advertising our events, and attack on a previous speaker of ours?

I personally know 20 to 25 Republicans who have been criticized and/or murdered on campus. Will the Herald do a story on that?

3 comments:

RightMichigan.com said...

If you find that updated list let everyone know! It'd be a public service.

--Nick
www.RightMichigan.com

Dan said...

I find that without solid statistics, this is nothing more than a fluff piece to get people to feel bad for the gay community. If I say to a friend on campus "That's gay!" and a gay person overhears it, is that considered verbal abuse? Does OUTspoken keep track of these statistics in a manner that is consistent and has controls in place to avoid misleading stats? I mean let's say they have an increase of 20% in membership. If current harrassment levels exist, they should report an increase of 20% among their members. Just plain logic.

Also, how is the fact that this Walters knows of 20-25 people who have been assaulted constitute a story? On top of that, what is the ratio of verbal to physical assault? If this 1 case of physical assault with 20+ cases of verbal abuse? If it was closer to a 50/50 ratio, I think this story would have mentioned it. This story is nothing more than the Western Herald doing what the Western Herald does best: report on stories the staff cares about and not what might actually impact students. I see nothing on their website about the new business tax, despite the fact that that could effect a majority of students when they start looking for work.

WMU said...

I think the best way to solve this is with an old school West Side Story rumble. In one corner: the Republicans, in the other: 20-25 annonymous victims who cry when someone doesn't like their rainbow bumper sticker.

-Kelly
I mean, annonymous Herald reader/danger to the world.