On Nov. 1, Jack Bugbee, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’19, discovered a poster advertising the Rally for Trans Rights vandalized in a stall in one of the men’s restrooms in the Leon Lowenstein building. On the poster, phrases like “Trump 2020,” “There are 2 genders,” “social justice = communism” and, at the top, “2020 Make America Great! Keep America Great!” were scribbled in black ink. The poster’s defacement came right after the rally itself, which had occurred the day prior.
Bugbee – by sheer coincidence – is president of the Rainbow Alliance club. Bugbee took photographs of it in the stall, uploaded them to his Instagram story and removed it. He also alerted a group chat with the organizers of the rally.
Diamantina Kefalas, FCLC ’19, one of those who received his text, a member of Rainbow Alliance and a trans woman, was alarmed at what Bugbee had discovered. Fearing that there might be more vandalized posters throughout the building, she checked all of the women’s and all gender restrooms in the Leon Lowenstein building but discovered no other defacements.
Bugbee and Kefalas then went to the office of Keith Eldredge, dean of students at FCLC and deputy Title IX coordinator. Eldredge took a statement from Bugbee and told the two to report the incident to the Office of Public Safety. They did so, and the office informed them that they would open an investigation into the issue and send out a public report the following day.
Kefalas was concerned about the effect the poster might have on LGBTQ individuals on campus. “I don’t really care about the person who wrote this,” she said. “For anybody who saw this and was hurt by it, they can reach out … There is a community of people who are going to back you up.”
She expressed dismay at administration officials she believes have said very little regarding the issues facing trans individuals on campus, despite recent events involving the Trump administration’s announcement to more narrowly define gender.
Calling on University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. to do something concrete about the transphobia, she said: “I get really annoyed when Father McShane sends out an email saying we condemn this and then does nothing.”
Kefalas said that the university needs to enact policy changes like a preferred name and pronouns policy and changing ResLife policy to be more inclusive of trans and non-binary students restrooms. “If he’s going to say something, that needs to be followed up with actual policies,” she said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s likely to happen.”
Public Safety said they could not provide any additional information until their investigation was complete.
Correction: A previous version of this story suggested that the vandalizer placed the poster in the bathroom. It was placed by members of Students for Sexuality and Gender Equity and Safety who regularly advertise their posters in bathrooms. The vandalizer then defaced the poster.