04 April 2012

Response to Anti-LGBTQ Exponent Opinion

Today I opened the Purdue Exponent to find an opinion letter entitled, "Resident provides suggestion for LGBT youth." I have talked to some people about a positive and more expansive way to respond, but I feel like some people are going to visit here looking for something to be said. I thus want to take a moment to respond to this, but not enough to really go into all of the details. A lot is moving forward right now for Purdue, and it is better for me to be a part of that then to respond to this letter. I will thus take a quick moment to talk about the letter so as not to let people down, and then go back to better things (including a much better way to respond to this letter too). I'm also going to respond by sections. Remember, this is not an expansive response, just a quick one as I know people will be asking me.


Dear Editor,
Many of us are getting a bit tired of hearing about the demands of Purdue’s so-called gay and lesbian community.
I'm a bit flattered with this first sentence to be honest. You are actually hearing our demands? I'm surprised because I often feel like I have a hard time seeing it. If you don't like hearing about it though, I don't think it is very hard to ignore. Also, I don't know how to feel about the "so-called gay and lesbian community" statement. Is that so-called because you don't think there is actual natural variation in sexual orientation? Is that so-called because you think it is small? Is that so-called because you think it isn't very cohesive? If I knew which one I might be better able to respond to the so-called statement.
Also, just quickly on only mentioning Gay and Lesbian, at least when I was president of the Queer Student Union (now LGBTQ Student Alliance) I spent more time on Trans issues than I did on Gay and Lesbian issues. There are a lot of identities in LGBTQ (more than just 5!), and they aren't just Gay and Lesbian.
I suspect that many of those most vocal are probably out-of-state students.
Sorry if I'm not being very humble here, but I think you could put me pretty high on the list of "most vocal" students for LGBTQ issues. I'm not only an in-state student, but I grew up in Frankfort, Indiana, and attended school from preschool through high school in the Frankfort School Corporation. The president of the QSU that followed me was also from Frankfort, Indiana. Vocal Queer students are not imported from other states, they can be found in Indiana. Not only found in Indiana, but found in cities and towns pretty close to West Lafayette.
I have to ask why did they apply to Purdue in the first place, if all they are going to do is complain about it?
I applied to Purdue because it is an academically strong school and does a lot for the surrounding community. Growing up I had the opportunity to attend many events at Purdue, I got to participate in research at Purdue while in high school. I  actually like Purdue a lot. I criticize Purdue because I want it to be all it can be. I think Purdue has a lot of potential, and I want it to live up to its full potential. I want students to want to go to Purdue, to want to stay at Purdue, and to really enjoy their Purdue experience. I don't complain because I hate Purdue. If I hated it, I would have transferred.
These petulant children have ‘gay friendly’ schools in their home states, and the Hoosier troublemakers (if any) should have applied to Bloomington.
Purdue and IU are the two major universities in my current home state - Indiana. I could have chosen either, but I discussed earlier a brief reason why I choose Purdue. Next year I will be leaving Purdue to attend a "gay friendly" school in another state - Minnesota. I am doing this for graduate school. People typically go to another school for graduate school. If I may be frank too, I am also a bit ready to leave Indiana. I did take Queer friendliness into account when considering which schools to apply to (both schools I applied to - Minnesota and Toronto -  I feel seem Queer friendly). I don't think that is the only reason why one should choose a school though. We students need to go where we can get the best education for us. For me that has been Purdue for my Bachelor's, and will be Minnesota for my Ph.D.
As a Christian, I hate the sin, but love the sinner.
Purdue is a public school, that is irrelevant. Besides, being Christian says nothing about one's feelings on being LGBTQ or even if LGBTQ identity is a "sin."
 I see no reason to destroy these people, but they should not be working to destroy our Boilermaker values either.
Well, I guess I am glad you don't want us destroyed... I don't get why you needed to toss that in there...

What are our Boilermaker values though? Is equality not a Boilermaker value? Is academic freedom not a Boilermaker value? Is inclusion not a Boilermaker value? Is fairness not a Boilermaker value? I could go on and on and on. When I think of Boilermaker values, I would like to think we strive to be a university where people can think, invent, create, and discover regardless of who they are or where they come from. I think of Purdue's land-grant history - something that is important to me. Purdue is meant to be for the common person. It is meant to make education accessible to the general public. Purdue is meant to be a diverse, inclusive environment where people can come and study, learn, discover, and grow. I think we need to fully embrace our land grant history, and our land grant values, and those mean being an inclusive campus that is open to everybody willing to learn and discover.
So the best solution for all concerned is for Purdue to set up some kind of Director of Gay and Lesbian Issues on campus, (cont...)
I actually read  this right before going to a search committee meeting that will be hiring a Director of LGBTQ Affairs, except your statement doesn't end there...
someone well versed in transferring academic credits and the application process, (cont...)
I don't want to violate any search committee rules, but I think it is safe for me to say that we have people at Purdue that do that now, and the Director is going to have different issues on their plate than how to transfer schools. But you don't end there...
so these young people can be directed to better pursue their values and ‘interests’ unhindered in more accepting institutions, and traditional Boilermakers who love Purdue and are happy with it as it is can better pursue our own values and interests as well.
I discussed a bit before what I feel are Boilermaker values. I have a question though - do you really think Purdue is all it can be? As I said before, I like Purdue. I like it a lot. I am glad I am a Boilermaker, and will be graduating in May from Purdue. Yet I don't want to limit Purdue to what it is now. I think it has the potential to be even greater of an institution. Do you really want us to stop asking Purdue to improve? It isn't just LGBTQ issues that many of us are asking to be updated. I will restrain myself a bit and only give one example. Okay, maybe two... If you want an example of how the Queer community loves Purdue, look at homecoming. The Queer Student Union for the past two years has been a part of the homecoming celebrations. If you want an example of how the Queer community is working on issues that improve Purdue for more than just LGBTQ students (we won't touch the idea that helping LGBTQ students also helps all other students in this blog post), one thing that the LGBTQ community had requested of Purdue was the creation and advertisement of an online bias reporting form. This helps enable all Boilermakers to report issues of discrimination and harassment in a much easier way than before. Did we not help to improve Purdue that way? Does that not help those "traditional Boilermakers"? I want Purdue to live up to its founding as a land grant university. I feel that Purdue has potential to be an even greater institution, and that we can help to get it there.


Okay, that is just a quick response from me for those who might want it.

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, Nicholas, I don't know how you can continue to respond so calmly and rationally to this sort of bile. I hope you will enjoy Minnesota. Spending time in an out-of-state environment is something everyone should to at some point. Perhaps the person who wrote this letter would benefit equally from a little broadening of horizons.