December 5, 2020

Classic Signals: Discrimination causes student to feel unsafe

Every week, Features Editor Alyssa Gautieri hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.

After a homosexual student read “Die Faggot” on a flier delivered under his dorm room door in 2001, the student was concerned for his safety. He criticized the College for its lack of focus on student safety, however, the College did not respond to the incident lightly and promised to “fight hate.” At the time, students in the College’s “support group for homosexuals” were determined to fight the offensive comments. One student found inspiration in the discrimination, using the threat as motivation to spread awareness and combat prejudice across campus. Sixteen years later, students at the College continue to make strides to promote diversity and open-mindedness.

Student finds hurtful note under his dorm room door. (Alyssa Gautieri / Features Editor)

A Community Commons resident returned to his room Sunday evening to find a hate message under his door, according to Jesse Rosenblum, associate vice president for College Relations.

Ed Drago, a junior psychology major, said he feels threatened and unsafe after finding the note, which includes the phrase “Die Faggot” on one side and the word “Beware” with a drawing of a swastika on the other.

The homophobic message was scrawled in marker on a flyer for The Haven, a support group for homosexuals that was co-founded by Drago in fall 2000.

Due to Drago’s prior involvement in The Haven and his position as treasurer for the Gay Union of Trenton States (GUTS), the incident was not random, according to college officials.

“It appears that he may have been targeted due to his sexual preference,” said Rosenblum.

Drago said that while he has heard of things like this happening to other people in the past, he has never felt physically threatened before.

“I feel deeply offended and I am very much concerned about my own safety here on the campus,” said Drago. “This event has added additional pressure to my daily life.”

Drago said he has no idea who could have done such a thing, but the person “obviously knows who I am; that’s the sad part.”

Betsy Housten, GUTS president and senior English major, said that the kind of message encountered by Drago cannot go ignored.

“Perpetrators of such hateful acts usually want to shut the members of a minority up through their threats and intimidation, but that will not work with us,” said Housten. “This kind of thing only strengthens our resolve to spread our message to this campus, raise people’s awareness and education about our issues. We refused to be silenced and we refuse to go away.”

The College is doing a lot to help combat these kinds of incidents, said Drago, especially through “funding different organizations that are trying to fight hate.”

But Drago said more should be done to make students feel secure on campus.

“After academics, the College should make protection of students its highest priority,” said Drago.

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