(this is another guest post by Student Government member Danielle Laundon)
By now, most everyone knows about the vandalism that occurred outside the NC State GLBT center in Harrelson on Monday night. One picture in particular depicting the spray-painted slurs has gone viral, thanks to Facebook, Twitter and the strong emotions felt by those who saw it. Emotions such as rage, sadness, confusion, disappointment. In talking with various students, it is this last reaction that I find resonates the most with me. At first it was disappointment in our school (I can’t really justify this except to say that it was a visceral reaction), disappointed in humanity in general, but mostly disappointed in this one, unknown person who feels they have the prerogative to spread such hateful thoughts, especially in such an ugly, public manner.
But after some thought, I was able to wrap my head around the situation. I found the silver lining. This picture, as ugly as it is, did go viral. But no one “sharing” or “retweeting” agreed with the painter. Everyone I was in contact with opposed it – with gusto. They took a stand. That is the Wolfpack I know and love. Whoever painted those words, they are not a part of the Pack in my eyes, regardless of whether they attend the University or not.
Many students immediately jumped to action. By Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the incident occurred, a letter was drafted and signed by over 700 members of the Wolfpack that stated, “We are NC State. We live by the values of equity for all people and mutual respect for every member of the human race… We stand by these values so that our generation and generations of students to come can all benefit from the diverse, welcoming, and empowering community that is NC State.”
By Tuesday night, student leaders from across campus met to discuss putting on an event in response to the incident. I attended this meeting and was awed by the passion and positivity that everyone was determined to bring out of this situation. So many amazing ideas were shared and eventually it was decided that there would be an “Ally Rally” in the Brickyard on Thursday, October 20. Wristbands would be given out and there would be speakers and student-submitted poems playing on the loudspeaker. To show NC State solidarity, it would be asked that students wear their Wolfpack RED the day of the event, whether are able to attend the event in the Brickyard or not. Personally, my favorite aspect of the event is the Twitter hashtag to be used: “#statenothate.” Could anything else say something so perfectly in so characters?
Also, today, Provost Arden released a statement where he stressed the importance that diversity holds in the educational experience at NC State and how the environment on campus should be both “safe and welcoming.” He went on to say, “It is in that spirit that we strongly condemn the thoughtless and shameful act of vandalism and harassment taken against our GLBT Center and against our campus.” I think this is an important point to make. This person, whoever they may be, may have thought that they were targeting a community within campus, but it is truly so much bigger than that.
I truly could not be more proud of my fellow students and everyone else who has reacted to this act of hate. It does saddens me a little that it takes something so hurtful for everyone to rise up as one, but it is still empowering to see that if you mess with a Wolf, you have to deal with the Pack.