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February 03, 2010

University of Oregon-Eugene Gay & Lesbian Student Alliance office vandalized

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Update: “An attack on one is an attack on all” was a common refrain at the well-attended Wednesday march and rally in support of the vandalized LGBTQA center, reports Oregon Daily Emerald.  ”The tone of this movement is one of love,” said Kelsey Jarone, University freshman and LGBTQA outreach coordinator. “The change that we see coming out of this significantly outweighs that one petty act of vandalism.”  The silver lining on the cloud of hate speech vandalism is that a community can become galvanized.


“I saw the swastika on the carpet and I felt like I had been kicked in the chest.” –Vashti, LGBTQ Alliance volunteer coordinator

H/T Marie.  Last weekend the office of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance at U Oregon at Eugene was vandalizd with Nazi symbols.

The University of Oregon in Eugene is a pretty fantastic place to be gay; winning a consistent five-out-of-five stars on the Campus Pride Campus Climate Index and boasting a thriving queer student community and Queer Studies program.

But this crazy-ass unacceptable shit happens, y’all, even in Eugene: over the weekend vandals attacked the University’s LGBTQ office with black spray paint, leaving a four-foot square swastika emblazoned on the carpet and spray paint all over the office’s TV and computer monitor. According to The Oregonian, there was no sign of forced entry and the office had last been used by Alex Esparza, co-director of the alliance, who locked the door when he left at 2:45 pm last Friday. The vandalism was discovered by a janitor at 1 A.M. on Monday morning.

The swastika painted on the carpet was four-foot square.  The police removed the vandalized section of carpet.  Students have temporarily covered the space with posters and messages of love and support.  As yet the police have no suspects, but of course there is speculation.

(Alex Esparza, co-director of the alliance, speculates) that the vandalism might be linked to a recent discussion about the meaning of the swastika held by the Pacifica Forum, an outside group that meets regularly on the campus.

Classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Pacifica Forum has met on campus since 1994 under the affiliation of a retired professor.  [University spokesperson Julie] Brown said it is long-standing policy for the university to allow groups associated with tenured professors to meet on campus.

“We support free speech,” she said, adding that there is no evidence pointing a finger at the group.

The university is reconsidering its policy of allowing outside groups to meet on campus, she said.

The university’s independent student news paper, Oregon Daily Emerald, quotes a Pacifica Forum member

Dawn Coslow, who condemned the act, but called its being linked to the Forum “ridiculous,” stating: “Any kind of hate crime is an absolutely disgraceful, despicable act, and I have sympathy for all the students in that office who have suffered this hideous act.”

The Gay & Lesbian Student Alliance has received great support from university administration and other student groups.  A mid-day rally has been planned for today.  No word yet on whether the Pacifica Forum members claiming sympathy for the LGBTQ center will join in solidarity with their LGBTQ brothers and sisters.


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