Thursday, March 01, 2012

Safe Zone

One of the privileges of working at Bridgewater State College (now University) has been learning about -- and participating in some small ways -- in the Pride movement. We have tried to create a campus on which students and employees of all genders, gender expression, and sexual orientations are free to work, study, and participate fully in campus life. We have, for example, provided scholarships for students whose families have cut them off financially because of sexual orientation or gender expression.

I know that this work has been worthwhile, because students and even visitors have told me so. I know that students have completed their education here who might not have been able to at other schools, and I am proud of that.

Last month, an out lesbian student was assaulted for having written an editorial against California's Proposition 8. The crime remains unsolved, so it has not yet been determined the extent to which this was a crime motivated by her words or by her identity, but in either case, it was a serious affront to a community that has prided itself as a safe and affirming campus. I was offended by that action, as it threatened to undermine what we have done so much to create. I was ultimately gratified to see the way in which student leaders were able to rally the campus and surrounding community.

Those who carried out the assault could have had no idea what their cowardice would unleash. Rather than creating an unsafe space in the center of our campus, as they had hoped, they motivated the rest of us to reaffirm the entire campus as a place of safety and even affirmation.

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