Friday, December 08, 2006

Chancellor sympathizes with LGBTQ, calls for more study

After the demonstration on campus this week, where Petra Roter (unexcitedly, I hear) joined the protesters by holding a sign, the Chancellor has issued another campus announcement. In it, he discusses possible changes on campus to address the problem and then promises starting a study to be carried out next year.

Apparently, having a professor and others roughed up on campus doesn't add up to a real problem. We need to do a survey, which will take a year or so, before a new policy can be discussed. Here is the message:

Last Wednesday night, we, along with other key administrators, met with members of our campus LGBTQ community and allies. This listening session, organized in part by the LGBTQ Council and the Rainbow Alliance for HOPE, examined issues of harassment and identified ways to ensure a safer and more respectful and inclusive campus environment.

We heard from students, staff and faculty how members of our campus LGBTQ community are targets of harassment and physical and emotional abuse. Individuals described the day-to-day bigotry and harassment that they have experienced or observed because of their sexual orientation. Students described how they did not feel comfortable going to class and how some are seriously considering leaving UW Oshkosh. There was a feeling by many of those in attendance that they were not welcome on this campus.

We discussed suggestions as to how our campus could become a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff. Suggestions included a range of actions, such as: training campus leaders, faculty and staff; developing a bias incident reporting mechanism; streamlining and improving reporting and grievance processes to increase reporting and better response time; enhancing and recharging the campus Diversity Alliance to address issues of campus climate; and developing a LGBTQ Resource Center.

We have already begun to review these suggestions and action steps and will work with the LGBTQ Council to move these and other recommendations forward. We have also recommended the development and implementation of a University-wide campus climate study. UW Oshkosh, with the assistance and support of the UW System, has committed to be one of the first institutions in the System to conduct a comprehensive climate study during the 2007-08 academic year.

Initially, key campus leaders will participate in SAFE (Students Staff and Faculty for Equality) training. This training educates participants regarding the challenges and issues facing LGBTQ faculty, students and staff, as well as advocates for a safe environment for all its members regardless of sexual and gender identities. A plan will be put in place to expand the availability of this program to all members of the campus community.

We are a campus whose core values embrace diversity and inclusivity. We support an atmosphere in which civility, tolerance and respect should be afforded to all. Whenever one member of our community is a victim of harassment or hate, it has an effect on all the members of our community.

Mahatma Gandhi said, �Once one assumes an attitude of intolerance, there is no knowing where it will take one. Intolerance is violence to the intellect and hatred is violence to the heart.� As a campus, we want once again to reiterate that actions of intolerance and hate, or elements that create an unsafe or inhospitable environment for LGBTQ and other members of our community, will not be tolerated. We ask that each of you re-affirm your commitment to the University�s core value of diversity and inclusivity and act accordingly.

Richard H. Wells Lane Earns Petra Roter
Chancellor Provost Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

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