Campus Slurs Require Equal Condemnation

Students+gather+at+the+town+hall+to+voice+their+concerns+over+the+homophobic+slur+found+in+McMahon+Hall.+%28Charlie+Puente%2FThe+Observer%29

Students gather at the town hall to voice their concerns over the homophobic slur found in McMahon Hall. (Charlie Puente/The Observer)

By SOGAND AFKARI

Students gather at the town hall to voice their concerns over the homophobic slur found in McMahon Hall. (Charlie Puente/The Observer)

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, I attended the Lincoln Center emergency town hall regarding the homophobic slur found in McMahon Hall. There were well over 30 people in attendance. A week prior at the Lincoln Center town hall regarding the first racist slur found at Rose Hill, however, there were approximately less than ten people. The racial remark received less than a third of the attention the homophobic slur did. Lincoln Center students managed to come together in defiance of the homophopic slur, yet we somehow let the racial one pass us by, hardly acknowledged.

Once again, just last week, we discovered a third time that prejudice persists at our school. We received an email from the administration telling us that a second racial slur had been found at the Rose Hill campus. Yet such racism isn’t just a factor at Rose Hill. It exists heavily at Lincoln Center as well.

I acknowledge that Lincoln Center and Rose Hill are two different campuses. Regardless, we all wear Fordham insignia, take the core and are taught Jesuit ideals. We’re a Ram family and we need to stand up for everyone regardless of their campus, sexual orientation or race.

As a Christian institution, Fordham advocates radical inclusivity. As a Jesuit institution, Fordham highlights the whole person. Why then is there a glaring amount of passivity regarding racism at this school? The racial aspect of our respective identities should be just as important and respected as our sexual orientation. Bigotry is wrong and there is not one form of it that is more appalling than the other.

I am proud of how many students, faculty and administrators appeared in solidarity at the town hall against heterosexism and homophobia. As a student leader, I look at Rainbow Alliance as a model of how to run an empowering and inviting club. I am a staunch advocate of LGBTQ rights, and the first protest I joined in was the anti-Proposition 8 rally in New York.

I am not belittling the seriousness of heterosexism at Fordham University. I am just trying to highlight the absence of solidarity in our community against racism. The lack of reaction at the first racial slur found at Rose Hill by Lincoln Center students shows that we do not take this problem seriously enough.

Fordham University is not a diverse institution. As an alumna (three month countdown till my May graduation), I will not prospectively donate on the premise that Fordham cultivates tolerance. From the top down, bigotry pervades this institution.

I recognize that there are revered components of the Fordham institution that educate, organize and advocate social justice issues. I applaud Global Outreach trips, the Dorothy Day Center’s volunteer opportunities and the Office of Multicultural Affair’s dialogues. However, not enough students partake in these activities.

I’m shocked that some think our country has completely overcome racism. The Civil Rights Movement happened only fifty years ago. The Jena 6, the Louisiana trial of six black students that sparked a national outcry, was only five years ago. The execution of Troy Davis, a black man convicted of a murder in a case that was later considered corrupt and rigged, was only a year ago. And just weeks ago we learned that the NYPD conducts surveillances on Muslim student organizations as potential terrorists. Even still, cities across the country persecute and exploit illegal Latino immigrants.

Racism continues to exist in the United States, whether it be regarding black, Latino, Muslim or any other ethno-religious group. New York City and the Fordham community is no exception to this prevailing discrimination. Within our largely white, heterosexual Fordham community, forms of prejudice, whether consciously or subconsciously, still permeate our lives.

The first racial slur was infuriating. The homophobic slur was equally so. Yet the racial slur was somehow overlooked by the Lincoln Center community, if only proven by the lack of people who decided to take a stand against it and show up at the emergency town hall (in comparison to the higher number who joined in the dialogue regarding the homophobic slur).

I hope that this second racist slur leaves no doubt in any one’s mind that racism is present at this university and that it merits our attention. I expect students, administrators and faculty to unify behind Father McShane and his “disgust” for these hurtful bigoted attacks. We should be a radically inclusive force to be reckoned with. At least that is what I would expect from what I have been taught here.