Responding to the words ?Phase phags? painted on a tunnel wall last Thursday, members of GLBFA said they repainted the tunnel that connects Bausch & Lomb and Lattimore Halls in an effort to raise awareness.
It is unknown who painted the phrase. The tunnel had last been painted by the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
?Our goal was to send a message loud and clear to the campus community that hate graffiti and other forms of bigotry will not be tolerated by the GLBFA,? said Dan Lioy, GLBFA education chair.
?[The phrase] was in reference to some names written next to it. I don?t know if these were names of brothers who lived in Phase or random names of people were put up,? Lioy said.
Upon seeing the slur, Lioy contacted GLBFA Adviser Brenda Myrthil, filed a report with UR Security and also spoke to Intercessor Kathy Sweetland.
Sweetland deals with the harassment cases on campus.
?We would have to have pretty clear evidence. There has to be blatant harassment based on gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation for there to be judicial action,? said Ken Rocken-sies, associate dean of students and chief judicial officer.
?I think that part of the criteria is how offensive the material is and how it was directed to another group of people,? Sweetland said.
Members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity issued a statement that neither denied nor admitted painting the phrase in the tunnel.
?Delta Kappa Epsilon as a fraternity does not discriminate in any fashion, nor does it condone discrimination by any one of its members,? Delta Kappa Epsilon said in a written statement signed for by DKE president Robert Crummet.
The fraternity expressed anger with GLBFA specifically for adding the letters ?d? and ?y? to the ?kappa? and ?epsilon? already painted in the tunnel to spell the word ?dyke.?
?We are both shocked and dismayed that the GLBFA took the actions it did and are angered by their use of our letters to form what we consider to be a slur,? Crummet said.
The fraternity refused comment when asked whether it painted the slur.
Lioy said that a GLBFA member?s use of the word ?dyke? did not refer to DKE.
?I personally do not like the word ?dyke.? But it was not in reference to a DKE brother,? Lioy said.
?Why didn?t they find the words ?phase phags? offensive on their walls?? he continued. ?Why didn?t they take action against that as they took action against the word ?dyke???
GLBFA incorporated the words ?phase phags? into its display and added a message that read ?Your hateful words only inspire GLBFA.?
Only the letter ?d? remains on the tunnel walls right now ? the rest has been painted over with blotches of red paint. The words ?phase phags? have also been obscured by spray paint. Investigators are unsure of who painted on top of the words.
?People sometimes have dramatic ways of expressing outrage. It is important to understand and be sensitive to the motivations thatdrive such outrage,? Vice President and University Dean of Students Paul Burgett said.
?[GLBFA members] were trying to use what was up there and make a statement to add a message to what was already there,? Myrthil said.
Because UR is a private university, it can limit speech on its property without violating freedom of speech.
The university could take disciplinary action if it found out who painted the phrase. The party would go in front of a judicial committee, who would decide on the appropriate measures.
?We will always be concerned about messages or graphic gestures that in some way violate university policy or exceed normally accepted limits or propriety,? Burgett said.
Currently, the matter has been left open for investigation.
The series of events can be traced back to a night when GLBFA attracted more than 30 students to its first interest meeting of the semester, Myrthil said.
?Imagine you come out of the meeting thinking UR is a safe place ? and then you see the tunnel and it brings you down even lower than when you began,? she said. ?There seems to be a difference if you offend someone for who they are [rather] than for what they do.?
While there are formal ways to deal with the matter, there is also informal mediation.
Burgett and Rockensies have both stressed the importance of informal mediation through open forums where these issues can be addressed.
?This may be an opportunity for us to have a dialogue ? especially among the injured parties. Let?s get together and talk,? Burgett said.