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November 16, 2012
Vol. 54 No. 10

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Letters to the Editor

The silent urged to speak up against degrading language

At this past Saturday's men's soccer game, hundreds of students, family members, faculty, staff and friends of the Susquehanna community gathered in fellowship to support our Crusaders as they ultimately advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the Division III NCAA soccer tournament. During an event intended for the united support of our athletes, the actions of a few resulted in an opposite and adverse outcome. Many cheered and offered positive displays of support. However, the actions of others demonstrated poor sportsmanship, bullying behavior and overt declarations of discrimination in reference to the LGBTQ community and women, thus creating a hostile environment.

Some people stood up to speak out against the behavior. Their attempts were met with resistance, taunting and even intimidation.

We do not accept this behavior as being representative of the Susquehanna community. We recognize that each of us has an opportunity to speak up against everyday acts of bigotry. Whether we witness forms of micro-aggressions--using derogatory slang or making assumptions based on one's own place in the majority--or overt discrimination toward others, we live in a world that allows us to challenge one another's actions. As a community, we know how to be supportive without putting others down or throwing slurs. We understand the words of an outspoken few have the potential to be damaging to a silent majority.

Anyone may feel free to contact an administrator in the Student Life Division, particularly the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct, the Department of Public Safety or the Bias Response and Education Team through the Center for Diversity and Social Justice and International Student Services with specific concerns or reports of individual actions. Reports will be investigated and may result in follow-up through the student conduct system. Members of the Counseling Center and the Department of Residence Life and Civic Engagement are also available for consultation and support.

We in Student Life encourage students to seek out these resources on campus but also recognize the power of being a positive bystander to other members of our community. Together, we have the capacity and the courage to speak out against any action of our community members that discriminates against others. Silence can come as a result of fear and uncertainty. Let's not be silent any longer. Let's challenge one another to stand up and speak out.

Respectfully submitted by,
Jenna Antoniewicz
Director, Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct

Communication key to healthy community

Who and how does it hurt when supporting your team degenerates into chanting homophobic slurs and using filthy language slandering women? Sadly, this happened at the men's soccer game Saturday night.

It hurts women, who may be your sister, your girlfriend or your classmate. They may wonder if the language degrading women means that those who speak, and those who say nothing, really disrespect them too.

It hurts men, who understand that such language expresses a warning that all men must fit a macho image or risk verbal and physical abuse.

It hurts children who are frightened by the verbal aggression and lack of caring in adults.

It hurts those who hear, who will protectively react with silence, experiencing anger and disgust towards the speaker, but also shame at the powerlessness they may also feel.

It hurts those who speak in such a damaging way, since the only way to use this language is to stop caring about the feelings or experience another person.

And sometimes, it kills. Not immediately, perhaps. But lesbian, gay and bisexual youth have a higher suicide rate than heterosexual youth.

All of us know what it is like to suffer. We also know, just because we are human, that we can cause suffering in others. We really are in this together, and together can find the words that heal.

Be part of the healing. You cannot, alone, complete the work of healing, but you are not free to ignore the task either. Ask your friends what comes to their mind when they hear homophobic slurs. Breaking the silence about this topic heals feelings of being isolated, silenced, and helpless. When you hear slurs from friends or family, remember this is not their best self. It will take all of your compassion, not your anger, to call out a friend whose fear or hatred is showing. Be patient, for healing is a large task. And when you break silence, challenge with compassion and do what can be done instead of feel helpless, you become a stronger and more resilient part of a healing and healthy community that stands against a hostile environment.

Respectfully,
The Counseling Center

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