campus life

How Harshly Should Southern Oregon University Punish Its Anti-Gay Graffiti Students?

Southern Orgeon University students Blake Adkins and Kevin Novotny wrote anti-gay slurs on a mixed-gender dormitory floor because only homos would wanna live with girls. They’ve since apologized, admitted stupidity, written I’m Sorry notes to everyone on the floor, will pay damages, and perform community service at the local LGBT center, but they still face disciplinary action from their school. SOU could use this as a “learning moment” about tolerance and free speech, but maybe they should just make an example of Adkins and Novotny, especially since their action continues a disturbing trend of anti-gay graffiti at American schools.

Keep in mind that these young vandals weren’t just pulling a drunken prank that went too far: they targeted a newly opened mixed-gender floor, mentioned specific students in their graffiti, and committed their act amid a wave of anti-gay graffiti at other colleges such as Sage College, Georgetown, Middlebury, UC Davis (pictured below), and the University of Oregon in Eugene.

There’s that cliche, “There’s a time and place for everything and it’s college.” A lot of people admittedly do stupid, even criminal things as students. Adkins and Novotny are currently under investigation for second-degree mischief and intimidation and while there’s no doubt that these assclowns would have stayed quiet if they’d never been caught, maybe the school should accept their seemingly-sincere apology, slap them on the wrists and let them learn their lesson.

On the other hand, had the students vandalized an LGBT community center in the real world, there would be press releases, official statements, angry letters, and perhaps even community vigils against the vandals and the homophobia they represent—they could cost a community thousands of dollars, man-hours and intimidate untold hundreds of LGBT people with their idiotic scrawl.

So SOU could send a strong message against intolerance by expelling of Adkins and Novotny, but a key part of college is socialization; y’know, teaching boys and girls as well as would-be homophobes and decent human beings how to live together. Showing the vandals some grace while ensuring the completion of their service could show them just how gracious and forgiving our community can be. Otherwise, the school might give them another reason to hate, since they got kicked out of college just for calling someone a fag.