And oh how the campus rallied.
|Human chain around Main Building|
When I first heard the news about WBC on a Sunday night, I felt weary in advance. Tired just picturing all that would go into trying to rally a campus response to support our LGBTQ students who are so hatefully targeted in WBC's messaging. But the deluge of support that began Sunday night and has not ceased, two and a half weeks later, is just staggering. Four lonely WBC picketers took up their police-designated spot on a far off-campus corner, and over 2,000 Vassar students, staff, alums, and community members showed up to physically show their support for LGBTQ people. That is epic.
|A choice sign from a community member|
The picketers were not allowed to come on campus, because it is private property. They applied for a protest permit from the Town of Poughkeepsie, and in accordance with their First Amendment rights, they were granted the permit and told where to stand. Vassar students held an hour and half rally right inside the main gate of the school, including remarks from students, openly gay Pastor Joseph Tolton, class of 1989, and of course, a capella.
The most powerful remarks came from students who are part of the Campus Climate group, who are hoping all the brouhaha can help Vassar look internally at the oppression that some students--by virtue of their race, gender, class or sexuality--experience regularly from their peers and their institution. That it's easy and it feels good to protest against external forces of oppression, but it's much harder (yet so important) to interrogate how racism, sexism and heterosexism play out on our campus every day. The group formed this fall in response to racist and misogynistic graffiti found frequently in dorms during first semester.
|From protest to Pride Parade on Raymond Ave.|
It was beautiful.
Correction: I recently learned from the Dean of the College that our group today was over 2,000-people strong!