UPDATE: In the previous version of this article, a quote was mistakenly attributed to Diana Deglado instead of Cosette Carleo. The mistake has since been corrected. Additionally, this article was been adjusted to more accurately represent the Loyolan's current understanding of the ongoing investigation regarding the alleged incident involving the LMU faculty member and several students.
As LMU students, we are asked to be Lions, courageous of mind and charitable of heart. However, a series of recent incidents have gone against LMU’s mission to uphold the education of the whole person and the promotion of justice and has violated many of our students.
As part of LGBTQ+ Awareness Week (Rainbow Week), LGBT Student Services put up signs promoting their week-long events and providing facts about LGBTQ+ issues. On Friday, April 14, their signs on Palm Walk were allegedly removed and left by a trash can. When student organizers attempted to re-post the signs, they reported being verbally confronted by a university employee.
According to senior management major Cosette Carleo, the students engaged the employee in a conversation and said employee replied hatefully. Carleo added that the employee denied the existence of transgender and gender neutral people, and insisted that heterosexuality is the only truth. “She did not respect the equal dignity that all humans should receive, especially those who are already marginalized," Carleo explained in an email to the Loyolan.
This is not the first hate crime directed at the LGBTQ+ community at LMU. In February, a professor in the theology department was described to have made derogatory comments about transsexuals, causing a trans student to feel unsafe. This professor is still employed at LMU, while the student was placed in independent study.
In a press release, the LGBTQ+ students of LMU explained that they feel isolated, afraid to come out and unsafe. No student should have to feel unsafe on their own campus because of their gender or sexuality.
Director of Leadership Programs and LGBT Student Services, Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht, said he hopes to work with the LMU administration to make sure another situation like this does not happen in any classroom. “When a faculty member says something like that, they [violate] a social contract with the student that we have to restore, and we have to do that as a university,” he said.
We are the students for which this institution was created, and faculty members degrading and criticizing these students should not be tolerated by any means. LMU is an institution designed to help students grow personally and professionally, and as faculty of the university, they should do nothing more than support these students in their efforts.
This comes on the heels of another hate incident in which the No Human Being is Illegal Week wall was defaced. The wall was created to encourage a dialogue about the insensitivity toward undocumented immigrants, but was vandalized with pro-Trump and anti-immigrant messages.
While it is a First Amendment right for anyone to voice their opinions, it should be done more respectfully. These accounts show there has been a clear lack of respect and dignity on our campus.
Both the LGBTQ+ Awareness Week and No Human Being Is Illegal Week were designed to spark a dialogue and bring support to marginalized groups of people. Yet both events were met with disrespect and vandalism that do not reflect LMU’s values.
Our university should be a community that supports and embraces diversity. While I understand that everyone is entitled to their own views, this statement puts things into perspective: I will respect your opinion as long as your opinion doesn’t disrespect someone else’s existence.
We should expect more from our peers and faculty, and marginalized students should receive the same respect. Whether it's disrespecting someone because of where they came from, the gender they identify with or their sexuality, none of this should be tolerated at LMU.
This is the opinion of Nikki Rathbone, a sophomore marketing major from Sacramento, California. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.