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The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

LGBTQ+ students call for a safer campus

Students+at+Drake+University+express+concerns+over+homophobic+and+transphobic+comments+and+microaggressions.+Photo+by+Meghan+Holloran+%7C+photo+editor
Students at Drake University express concerns over homophobic and transphobic comments and microaggressions. Photo by Meghan Holloran | photo editor

As we approach the end of the school year, one thing has become readily apparent to me: The mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ students this year has been rampant. 

In recent years, anti-LGBTQ+ laws and attitudes have been increasing in the United States, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill or organizations like Moms for Liberty attacking the community. As such it is extremely discouraging to see these attitudes invade Drake as a campus and community that is meant to be safe for all students. 

The experiences of the LGBTQ+ community are especially relevant to my life. As a gender-nonconforming person, I have intense feelings on the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, especially on Drake’s campus. Since coming to Drake last fall, I have made many wonderful friends and acquaintances, a majority of whom happen to be within the LGBTQ+ community. As such, I’ve gotten to hear a lot about their issues with campus as well as issues they see others have on campus. As time has gone on, I have gotten more and more aggrieved by these stories, so I interviewed those I have heard who had issues with homophobia and transphobia during their time on campus.

A member of the community on campus said, “Some people in class will be casually transphobic or homophobic.” 

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The student interviewed stated that things like snide comments when professors asked about pronouns and comments about how other people identified had happened to them a fair amount of times since starting school in the fall.  

However, as the year has gone on, more and more complaints have risen specifically about the inclusive housing floors, including reports of vandalism of the white boards outside rooms, various stolen items and even physical harassment. 

“We don’t know if it’s because of our floor, but it happens a lot,” said another student interviewed. 

Of course this behavior doesn’t just stop at campus life. A lot of the time students feel targeted from before they even step foot on campus.  

“I was approached by a woman who worked for the University, and she asked if I was going to be put on the inclusive housing floors. I said yes at the time because I thought that sounded nice. I now realize she was stereotyping me as genderqueer,” described a resident on admitted students day who now lives on one of the gender inclusive floors on campus. 

Of course, no one can make a decision on whether that woman’s actions come from a malicious bias or a genuine mistake, but it’s stories like these that make me and many other students in the community afraid to speak out to Drake staff about the harassment experienced on campus. 

Despite the best interests of the faculty, the support for these students can feel very surface level or, as another student described, “almost clichéd.”

Five of the six people I interviewed on campus had personal experiences with homophobia on campus. The one who didn’t, however, stated while Drake does have support, it can be limiting due to what can be done legally. Drake does provide support, but it can appear heavy-handed and slow, making LGBTQ+ students in the Drake community feel unsafe. 

I have also felt unsafe on Drake’s campus. It’s hard not to while Iowa is run by a governor who clearly has a distaste for the LGBTQ+ community, in addition to the attitudes around campus. 

My experience was subtle but nevertheless impactful on me when I began to attend university. I was sitting in Hubbell one evening  when I heard a group of people behind me discussing their thoughts on politics loud enough for me to hear it. Throughout their discussion I heard several homophobic and transphobic remarks, and obviously I’m used to this sort of behavior, but one thing in particular stuck with me. No one stopped them. It’s not like I blame anyone else. I also didn’t do anything, but why didn’t I? It makes me wonder if that’s what the Drake staff fear as well. 

Being ostracized by those who hate and oppress those who are different from them. We need to stop fearing the bigoted and ignorant homophobes and make our campus a safe space from these harmful ideals and people. Because if Drake can’t achieve that, then I fear it will never be a University that can improve for its students. 

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