Campus Vandalism Causes Outrage

Photo By Andrew WyrichAfter the discovery of vandalism on both a campus parking lot sign and flyers for an advocacy panel for LGBTQ identified people in communities of color, student leaders discussed the effects of the postings on the campus community.

A police report was filed on Tuesday, March 19 for “harassment” when a  woman reported that “an insensitive message was posted on a campus sign” in the Plattekill Avenue 32 parking lot.

The sign for “Shango Parking” was vandalized to say “Django Parking,” in reference to Quentin Tarantino’s recent film “Django Unchained.”

The vandalism on the flyers for the Queer Action Coalition (QAC) and Black Student Union’s (BSU) “Queerphobia” panel program  featured “queerphobic, reproductive-themed comments” in direct opposition with the purpose of the event, student senator Zachary Rousseas said.

After she received a text from a friend on Monday, March 18, fourth-year Black studies major Jada Young said she left her class to retrieve the defaced sign.

Young said she and other students are currently filing incident reports with the University Police Department (UPD) and have notified several faculty and administrators of the vandalism.

Rousseas said QAC decided the best way to understand the issue of queerphobia was to examine it from different angles.

“QAC took charge to create this event because people of color are underrepresented in our organization,” Rousseas said. “And as queer people, we understand the implications of exclusion and the importance of reaching out to underrepresented groups to gain a larger perspective of the topic of discussion.”

The intentional vandalism of the “queerphobic” event flyers represent a greater issue for “queer-identified” students on campus, Rousseas said.

“I am deeply upset by the posters because as a queer person, your sexual orientation is constantly critiqued and queer people are consistently having to defend their sexual orientation,” Rousseas said. “I see it as a means to invalidate all of the work that queer people have to go through to accept ourselves and have others accept us.”

Young said she believes the various postings are reflective of New Paltz being “a truly not diverse campus.”

“I think there needs to be more serious effort on behalf of administration to enroll more students of diverse backgrounds,” Young said. “But there also needs to be efforts to create a safe space for students when they get here.”

SA Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Jonathan Espinosa said the senate discussed the vandalism of the flyers and determined that the increase in similar racial and gender-themed postings are a part of a greater institutional problem.

He said SA proposed several solutions to provide a more supportive environment  for LGBTQ students including creating more educational programs for the campus community.

Espinosa said students have proposed the creation of a resource center for LGBTQ students and discussed the benefits of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality program gaining departmental status. Espinosa said the most effective changes will happen on a larger scale.

“Programs are not enough,” Espinosa said. “There has to be an institutional change.”