Civility, please

Just as the rich red lettering of the signs being held in silent support at the recent SGA meeting helped solidify the LGTBQA’s presence as a strident and respected voice in the University community, the angry red lettering, “Mike Glynne is a heterosexist shithead,” scrawled on the walls of the Living and Learning Center has unfortunately pushed them back into a more frustratingly provocative status. Actions like this may or may not have come from someone directly associated with the cause, but regardless it reflects poorly upon the LGTBQA community and the University community as a whole. How should we react? The tactic of hateful slurs scribbled on walls fits more aptly with ill-educated neo-Nazis and if that agenda had been the one written, there would be much more of an outrage and a definite call for someone’s head. Prejudice is prejudice in any form. A form of opposition to the SGA decision has reared its ugly head. What happened to the friendly gatherings on the library steps and the free t-shirts for allies? Civility has apparently left the building. Please, UVM, don’t take the low road. It is hard for many of us in the University community to fathom some of the struggles that members of LGTBQA community have endured in their quest for acceptance. And it is an unfortunate truth that we don’t live in a world that is wholeheartedly accepting of LGBTQA community and its desire for an equal and safe quality of life. Enlighten us, but don’t lash out. Among the goals listed on the LGTBQA services Web site one particularly stands out, “Our aim is to transform the UVM experience for LGBTQA students, faculty, and staff to one that is safe, positive, and fully engaging.” Where does livid and menacing graffiti fit into that agenda? It is largely understood that the crackdown on bias incidents on campus was enacted in an attempt to make the University an open and supportive haven for learning for individuals of all walks of life. That includes those that may think differently than you. Hateful graffiti doesn’t further the conversation. It creates sides; sides that will continue to squabble and lash out at each other. Civility must be restored. An open, respectful and rational debate is the only safe solution to reaching a destination at which ALL students, faculty and staff can have an experience that is safe, positive and engaging. A passion for a cause is one thing that should always be respected, especially in a university community, but when that cause threatens the wellbeing of any individual, minority or not, someone must take responsibility. We should all take heed to the proverb: “Lower your voice and strengthen your argument.”