On April 5, a UNC Chapel Hill freshman was assaulted on a footbridge on campus; he was allegedly “branded” by perpetrators who referred to his sexual orientation and suffered 3rd and 4th degree burns on his hand; he was treated at Campus Health Services. WRAL:
University of North Carolina student Quinn Matney is gay. For that, he says, someone scarred him for life.
Matney said a man walked up to him last week near a foot bridge on the Chapel Hill campus, called him a derogatory name, told him, “here is a taste of hell,” and held a heated object to his skin for several seconds, leaving third and fourth-degree burns.
He described the assault, which university officials are calling a hate crime, as “relentless burning, searing pain.”
“It has burned all the way through the flesh and is burning through muscle and tendon,” Matney said. He said he has an infection and limited movement in some fingers, and the nerve damage may require surgery.
…Jeff Deluca, co-president of UNC’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and Straight Alliance, raised concerns that the university waited two days before alerting the students and the community.
“It is shock and sadness that something like this could happen on campus and go pretty much unnoticed,” Deluca said.
You should read some of the hateful, ignorant comments at the WRAL site. Apparently they don’t have a moderator because some of the bible-beating garbage is out of control. In a letter to students, Chancellor Holden Thorp announced that it will be reported to the Feds as a hate crime:
April 11, 2011
Message from the Chancellor: Police Investigate Assault Tied to Sexual Orientation
Dear Carolina Students, Faculty and Staff:
Our Department of Public Safety has been investigating an aggravated assault that appears to have been motivated by the sexual orientation of a male student, who was treated at Campus Health Services for burn injuries. The incident, reported to police on April 5, occurred on the foot bridge between Craige Residence Hall and the intersection of Ridge Road and Manning Drive.
Our thoughts are with our student and with his family and friends. As a University community, we condemn this act of violence. Our Department of Public Safety will bring the strongest possible charges against the attacker.
Based on the available evidence to date, the University plans to report this incident as a hate crime to the federal government. We’re also mindful of a recently adopted UNC system policy that deplores unlawful harassment leading to a hostile environment that is based upon personal characteristics including sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or veteran status.
Everyone in our community has the right to a safe, inclusive and welcome living and learning environment. And all of us have a responsibility to stand against acts of violence, harassment, bullying and intimidation and to treat each other with civility and respect.
Campus advocates for our LGBTQ community are asking questions about the University’s response to this incident. As I explained in my message to the campus last week about the incident in Morrison Residence Hall, the University is now reviewing the notification protocols and procedures we use to inform the campus about crime reports or dangerous situations.
This most recent incident will be considered in those conversations, too.
I’ll post any substantial updates on the case when I learn more. The major controversy now is why the university dragged its feet in announcing the incident. There is supposed to be a meeting on Thursday between campus brass and Jeff DeLuca, the head of the gay student org at UNC-CH (GLBTSA). It has been openly condemning the slow response by the university before going public several days after the hate crime occurred.
It’s relevant to mention Campus Pride’s comprehesive report, “2010 State of Higher Education For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender People,” that outlines the climate most LGBT students experience.
The report documents experiences of over 5,000 students, faculty members, staff members, and administrators who identify as LGBTQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, & Queer) at colleges and universities across the United States.
We think of campuses as an environment for free expression; however if your not straight and gender conforming, it’s an entirely different experience.
Colleges and universities are failing to provide LGBTQQ people with an environment that research suggests is necesssary for learning and scholarship: Less than seven percent of accredited U.S. institutions of higher education offer institutional support; thirteen percent include sexual identity policy protections; and six percent include gender identity and expression policy protections. While the availability of LGBTQQ services and programs have improved, far fewer institutions offer them – safe space/ally programming, LGBTQQ faculty advisors and staff positions and LGBTQQ student centers or facilities.
• LGBQ respondents (23%) were significantly more likely to experience harassment when compared with their heterosexual counterparts (12%) and were seven times more likely to indicate the harassment was based on their sexual identity (83%, 12%, respectively). Additional analyses indicated that those who identified as queer (33%) were significantly more likely to experience harassment than other sexual minority identities.
• LGBQ respondents were twice as likely to be targets of derogatory remarks (61%), stared at (37%), and singled out as “resident authority” regarding LGBT issues due to their identity (36%) when compared with their heterosexual counterparts (29%, 17%, and 18%, respectively).
• Respondents who identified as gay or similar were most often targets of derogatory remarks (66%), while lesbians or similar were most likely ignored deliberately or excluded (53%). Queer respondents were most often stared at (44%) or singled out as resident authority due to their identity (45%).
CHALLENGE: LGBQ respondents have more negative perceptions of campus climate than their heterosexual counterparts.
• LGBQ respondents (70%, 76%, 64%) were significantly less likely than their allies to feel very comfortable or comfortable with the overall campus climate, their department/work unit climate, and classroom climate than their heterosexual counterparts (78%, 85%, 76%).
• Among LGBQ respondents, queer respondents (63%) were least likely to feel very comfortable or comfortable with their overall campus climate; both bisexual (71%) and queer respondents (71%) were least likely to feel very comfortable or comfortable in their department/work unit climate; and lesbians or similar (59%) and queer (59%) respondents were least likely to feel very comfortable or comfortable in their classroom climate.
• LGBQ respondents (55%) were significantly more likely to perceive or observe harassment when compared with heterosexual respondents (47%) and also more likely to indicate the perceived harassment was based on sexual identity (78%, 65%, respectively).
• Among LGBQ respondents, those who identified as queer (70%) were significantly more likely to observe harassment than respondents who identified as gay or similar, lesbian or similar, or bisexual.
• LGBQ respondents were more likely to observe others being the targets of derogatory comments (77%), being stared at (41%), deliberately ignored or excluded (38%), and intimidated or bullied (30%). LGBQ respondents were twice as likely as heterosexual respondents to report they perceived physical violence in their campus environment (10%, 5%, respectively).
• Queer respondents were more likely to observe others staring, someone being deliberately ignored or excluded, and racial/ethnic profiling than other sexual minority identities.
With that in mind, incidents like the one that has occured at UNC cannot be seen as an anomoly, only an escalation from bullying and harassment. The university has to take these matters seriously; considering incidents of this kind a federal hate crime is a necessity to send the right message.
Please also read Jake Gellar-Goad’s diary, “I have no words“.