May 13, 1998
Note: The following is a letter that appeared in the Central Florida
Future and the Knight Times, the campus papers at the University
of Central Florida.
Every year the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Student Union paints the
freedom circle near Polk and Lake [residence] halls for LesBiGay Awareness
Week. This year it took us two weeks and over 18 hours of labor to paint
We decided on a pink triangle cutting into a rainbow surrounded by the
wording, "UCF GLBSU PRESENTS LESBIGAY AWARENESS WEEK APRIl 12-17."
What was so absolutely revolting about this that someone felt it needed
to be destroyed, not once, but twice? How can one justify such destruction
and blatant displays of hate and intolerance? Furthermore, how can one
consciously hide the evidence of such intolerance as someone from the UCF
The first time, some unknown person wrote the eloquent message, "Fuck
this shit" on the pink triangle. Along with taking pictures, we reported it
to the police who had someone erase the black marker. On the morning of
Friday, April 17, it was discovered that someone had once again defaced the
circle with "witty" additions in orange.
Without reporting the vandalism to the police, without notifying someone
from GLBSU, and without taking pictures of the sabotage, someone made the
hasty decision to have people from Physical Plant paint the entire circle
over in white (I'm sure in an effort to save face in front of visiting
parents and prospective students). I speculate whether anyone from Physical
Plant had any intentions of reporting this incident whatsoever.
One of President Hitt's goals for the University of Central Florida is
diversity. The issue of sexual orientation is quite underrepresented in
this campaign to promote a sense of diversity, tolerance and inclusion on
campus. What took place on Friday was a glaring example of this. The
perceived group of people: gay, lesbian and bisexual UCF students. Every
time a hate crime is committed against gays, lesbians and bisexuals, the
incident is rarely taken seriously and is quickly covered up and swept
under the rug.
I am disgusted with this unjustifiable trend. The university
should have an established procedure for handling hate crimes on campus.
The matter must be formally investigated as the university is under an
obligation to report the incident pursuant to the Hate Crimes Statistics
Act of 1996. Obviously, the Federal Government takes this matter very
seriously. Has UCF's rapid growth inflated its ego to such a degree that
its administration feels superior enough to discount the seriousness of
what is now nationwide policy?
This is not the only time hate crimes such as this have been reported
and consequently disregarded. UCF has a problem with gay-related hate
crimes on campus. In the library, copies of The Advocate, a gay
publication, have been found urinated on in the men's restroom. Last
Decemebr, while GLBSU was fighting to receive funding from [the student]
Senate to bring Chastity Bono to campus, our faculty advisor received a
death threat. I myself received a harassing message on my answering machine
a few days prior to LesBiGay Awareness Week. It's unfortunate that
gay-bashing seems to be the last socially acceptable discrimination in the
United States. No form of prejudice should be even remotely tolerated on
this campus, but my experience tells me differently.
Marie Armentrout and Ryan MacDonald
are co-vice presidents of the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Student Union at University of Central Florida
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