Homophobic Graffiti on Carman

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An email from Dean Colombo to Carman residents reveals that some homophobic graffiti was applied to the pillar outside the freshman dorm on February 11th, and was removed about a week later. Colombo’s email, reproduced below the jump, asserts that the slow response time in dealing with such incidents will be looked into in the future and improved. In the meantime, the administration has met with student council representatives and LGBTQ community leaders, and will be hosting events meant to address the issue. An investigation has also been launched with Public Safety.

Bwog continues to look into the incident and is awaiting further details from Dean Colombo. One pressing question: the pillar is visible and accessible to anyone walking through that part of campus, so why have (apart from the aforementioned student leaders) only Carman residents been involved thus far?


February 27, 2007

Dear Carman residents,

I am emailing to update you on the biased writing that was drawn on the

pillar outside of Carman.  As many of you know, on Sunday, February

11th, an RA reported the graffiti to Public Safety.  The graffiti, which

consisted of homophobic language, challenged the very core of our

community’s values.  This is not acceptable to you, to me, or to any

members of our community.

Once Residential Programs and the Office of Multicultural Affairs were

made aware of this act of vandalism, we immediately acted to ensure that

steps were being taken to remove the graffiti, to inform and counsel key

constituencies (including LGBTQ student leaders), and to launch an

investigation with Public Safety. These actions were based on agreed

upon protocols designed to respond to incidents such as these.  Despite

several attempts, however, the language was not effectively removed

until over a week after the incident.  We have spoken with the offices

of Housing & Dining and Facilities, and they have expressed regret for

the delay that it took for those words to be entirely removed from the

entrance to your home.  In response to this, Housing & Dining and

Facilities have evaluated their methods for immediately covering and

then permanently removing such graffiti. These two offices are also

acting to acquire the necessary equipment to improve response time in

the regrettable case that it is needed in the future.

I understand that this incident violated your sense of home, and we take

that very seriously.  On March 2nd at 2:30pm in the Carman lounge, the

Office of Multicultural Affairs will be hosting a program to bring us

together in understanding how biased actions and behaviors impact the

community as a whole.  This program, Not in Our Home: Communities in

Response and Dialogue will discuss how we can support and be allies to

one another, what we can do collectively to address the issues at hand,

and what proactive measures we can take to continue educating each

other.  We hope that you will participate in what promises to be an

important and engaging event.

Incidents such as this one remind us of the need to continually work

together to strengthen the procedures and protocols that we have

designed to uphold our community values.  The success of our work thus

far is in large part the result of student input through key

constituency leaders, our Community Principles Initiative committee, and

Student Leadership Summits.  The work of those groups continues as we

explore how to improve immediacy of response, educate those around us

about acts of hate and intolerance, and engage all members of our

community to work actively towards a sustained, supportive environment.

We all share a responsibility to maintain the values of our community.

The Division of Student Affairs is committed to ensuring that this

campus is a home to all of you.  I look forward to working with each of

you as we empower ourselves to overcome acts of hate.


Chris Colombo

Dean of Student Affairs

Columbia College

The Fu Foundation School of Engineering

and Applied Science

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  1. scoop!  

    thanks to Bwog for breaking this story!

  2. Blue  

    Uh...Bwog didn't break this story. It was reported on CTV News on Sunday.

  3. First  

    bias incident of the year

  4. umm  

    are you sure the CTV thing was about homophobia? are you sure it wasn't *islamo*phobia?

  5. X.J.  

    Someone posted about this in the comments awhile ago. I believe they said the graffiti said "Queers Rape" in chalk. I'm not sure that I would necessarily call that 'homophobic graffiti,' but I'll leave that to the community as a whole to discuss.

  6. kam  

    I don't think that it was written in chalk because I heard that it took a lot of effort to get off. Wasn't it paint of some sort?

    And I thought that it said "queers rape boys" with "boys" misspelled or something like that.

    • how  

      is that homophobic?

      • uhhh  

        well, let's see, operating under the assumption that we can agree that "homophobic" means some sort of fear or contempt for gay people, it should be pretty clear how this is homophobic. speech like this mess is hateful and both represents and spreads contempt for gays.

        has there been any sort of official response by the queer alliance? a press release or something?

        • i don't  

          see how the message is certainly homophobic. queers rape (boys) is a statement of fact and not of opinion. its veracity can be proven either true or false. the same way that one might write men rape women.

          phobias refer to either false statements of fact or opinions that are not deemed acceptable.

          truth, cannot make someone 'phobic'.

          or can it?

      • you have  

        got to be fucking kidding me

  7. instigator  

    Let's break this down. Homophobia is wrong, obviously, and I don't think that there's any question that that was the spirit in which those words were written.
    However, unless I'm mistaken (which I may well be) "queers" is a term that is appropriate for use by all. And certainly it is true that there are members of that community who have committed sexual violence, just as it is true of most communities.
    If Take Back The Night had put up posters saying "Men Rape" would this be a similar situation? Granted, graffiti is different from posters, but would the sentiment be the same?
    Is there only the one (though significant) difference: that men can be empowered in our society, while homosexual, bisexual, transgendered, etc. people are often not?

  8. ccsc  

    Back to the most important issue facing Columbia right now: will this cause ripples on the CCSC campaign trail?

  9. Anonymous  

    When, what the University determines to be, bias valdalism is directed at some groups (Ruggles), the University response is almost instantaneous. When its directed against other groups (EC, Carmen), the University response is abhorrently delayed.

    Last year, the President's Student Advisory Committee on Diversity repeatedly asked Bollinger why the University didn't respond quicker in EC, at multiple meetings. He never pretend to respond to the question. Now a similar delay in Carmen.

    The same mistakes, over and over again. Not even a token effort to improve response. This is shameful.

  10. why it's phobic

    most queers don't rape boys.

    just like most XXX aren't (insert problematic racial category here)

  11. i am fucking  

    sick and tired of people comparing the two statements. "men rape women" is not the same as "queers rape boys" because there is no constant struggle for men in general to be accepted, there is no history of hate and violence towards men in general, and being just a man is not as big of a sensitive issue as being queer. to make such a broad statement without taking into account context is both ignorant and insulting.

    and regarding the word "queer," it's not just a black-and-white issue on whether or not it is okay for people to say it or not. it is obvious that the meaning behind the word is what really caused the commotion. there is a big difference between someone saying "i identify as queer" and "those fucking queers".

  12. i bet you

    it was one of those damn culture warriors.

  13. Sprinkles  

    Don't worry, Columbia didn't do anything substantial to punish the people who committed a hate crime in Ruggles last year...don't expect this year to be any different.

  14. clarification  

    not to repeat what #18 said, but i think it's important to find out that A) usage of the word "queer" depends on the context because it can be used as in a pejorative, antagonistic manner, and B) many LGBT people don't use the word "queer" to identify themselves because of its connotation as a homphobic insult. i, for one, am gay and do not identify as "queer."

    given the word's history as a discriminatory insult, it's hard not to see this graffiti as blatantly homophobic.

    • oh lord  

      not really to question, but what word, meaning gay, has not been used as an insult.

      it seems awfully likely that this was probably some idiot's idea of a joke. does that make it ok, not really, but it does change how we should respond, just to be productive. i'm not really a fan of making martyrs of idiots.

  15. oh, wait  

    i meant to write "to note that," not "to find out that."

  16. hmm

    i dont think that the take back the night folks would be down with posters saying 'men rape women.' it doesn't seem to me that the purpose of take back the night is to disseminate the idea that 'men rape women,' but rather to provide a safe space for all people who have experienced sexual violence, regardless of gender, and to work towards a world where no one (male, female, etc.) will have to deal with the consequences of rape.

    also, 'queers rape boys' is undeniably homophobic. not only does the word, as another poster mentioned, have a history of pejorative use, but the plain meaning of the statement is that all 'queers' engage in an activity that is illegal, hurtful, and wrong.

  17. STOP  


  18. I'm schocced!

    Have you ever considered that maybe someone is having a laugh at your expense? I'm mean come on-- racist crackers, queers rape boys... sounds like a dumb joke to me.

    • Cam  

      Now there's a much more interesting question. Two givens: A) we should watch for, and do our best to wipe out, bigotry and hate crimes, but also B) we shouldn't pay too much heed to blatant trolls, online or off, who are merely screaming for attention. So where's the line?

      On my last campus, there were two rounds of official emails and news buzz for days after someone scratched a couple of swastikas on the corner of a building in pen. They were about as tall as the brick. The response seemed excessive. But is it valid to make judgement calls based on visibility? Hate speech is hate speech, right? Does it matter whether it was chalk or paint? Or should we discard intent entirely?

  19. Where's  

    Nellie Bowles now???????

  20. i think  

    men rape women = queers rape boys, and both are bad

  21. Well  

    Some queers do rape boys. In fact, I bet most male rape victims were raped by men. It seems only fair.

    • sick  

      #36: This does not mean that the rapists were queer--straight men rape the most men and women.

      #37: I agree. It is just another indication of the homophobia on this campus.

      I'm sure the Catholic ministry on campus would take graffiti that reads "Catholics rape boys" lying down.

  22. I'm sad that  

    Some people are trying to argue that the vandal meant "[Some, but not all,] queers rape boys". Give me a break.

  23. ummm  

    explain the chemical process behind that one.

  24. well

    If [email protected] has taught us anything, it's that this freshman class has its fair share of racists and homophobes.

  25. CC'10  


  26. McFister

    I think homophobia is totally gay.

  27. Anonymous  

    CTV News does a pretty good job for its limited resources.

  28. ichbinsehrkalt  

    i identify as queer and i'm actually annoyed that people care about this crap. the bottom line is someone felt like being an asshole, basically on a whim. so you scribble shit and now BWOG readers and the administration legitimize you. this person, whoever it was - could have been anyone! - doesn't deserve this debate.

    but i do take issue with Colombo's "I understand that this incident violated your sense of home, and we take ?that very seriously." BS. Queers live on the margins - that is our home. I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I LOVE the idea that I won't be tolerated - and the LGBTQ community thrives on perpetuating that idea of existing OUTSIDE. It's certainly invigorating.

    Unfortunately, the person who wrote that shit is not.

    To LGBTQ students who were offended: don't waste your time or thoughts.

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