Tongues wagging at Emory over anti-gay assault

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imageThe Greeks. Student leaders. The gays. School administrators. Most everyone at Emory has something to say about the anti-gay assault last weekend at an off-campus frat party. And most have taken to the Emory Wheel, the student paper that broke the story on Monday about an unidentified gay student who was put in a headlock and assaulted by a self-described “drunk asshole” and Emory graduate. The incident has taken on a life of its own nationally. On campus, students and student leaders met Tuesday to discuss the assault and work through what it means to them. It is, after all, an academic place. Talking, processing, discussing and dissecting is what they do. At least one person at the meeting, gay student Joe O’Geen, argued that despite the gay student’s attire--a lime-green jacket, red pants and a wizard hat--he didn’t deserve the reaction he received, a point that sometimes seemed lost in reactions during Tuesday’s meeting.

“Some people have very different or unique styles; I don’t think he was asking for it,” Joe O’Geen (‘10C), an openly gay former member of Emory’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp), said. “I’m not saying there was alcohol or not, but I think in a setting where there would be alcohol involved, people would be less inclined to come to that person’s aid, and avoid the situation. But then again, I could be wrong.”
But that wasn’t the only talking taking place on the campus. The Greeks penned an editorial in Friday’s Wheel to make it clear it wasn’t a frat party and to ask that we don’t stereotype the frat boys. Oh yeah, we love the gay guy, too.
To headline this incident as occurring at a “Frat Party” is a misrepresentation of a very unfortunate incident. Many individuals within the Greek system are also deeply hurt and angered by the promotion of a sweeping stereotype of intolerance, a stereotype many Greek organizations across the nation continuously work to combat. We ask that the Emory community remember that all stereotypes are harmful.
But beyond their bluster, the Greeks are also taking action in the wake of the assault. On Nov. 10, they are launching a new partnership between Greek Life and the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Life that will include diversity training.
Included in these efforts is a new partnership between Greek Life and the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Life. We will celebrate the launch of this partnership on Nov. 10 through a Wonderful Wednesday co-sponsored with the Office of LGBT Life at Emory and Greek Life featuring the No Hate Campaign. This long-lasting partnership will guide us in our multi-pronged efforts. To start, we plan to coordinate diversity trainings uniquely crafted to help our members understand the unique issues that LGBT students — and other underrepresented students — face when they engage the Greek community, whether during the recruitment process, at social events or in daily life. We will sponsor facilitated discussion forums and invite guest speakers to promote acceptance and respect within our overlapping communities. Furthermore, we will strengthen ties with our individual chapters so that we may help each face their distinct collection of challenges.
But the talking didn’t stop there. A coalition of student leaders, many of whom took part in Tuesday’s analysis, also took to the Wheel to say, well, we’re not really sure. They talked a lot about intolerance and prejudice and how it’s not acceptable at Emory without drawing many conclusions.
Intolerance on Emory’s campus is not acceptable. Prejudice on Emory’s campus is not acceptable. Discrimination on Emory’s campus is not acceptable. These are points on which the student body of Emory is not willing to compromise. Despite imperfections, Emory is a progressive institution with resources for students and opportunities for growth that are nearly unparalleled.
Their response was short on specifics about next steps, other than to say they “are working on initiatives to address issues of inclusiveness on Emory’s campus.”


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