When Someone Says the F-Word

So here is my experience with at­tempting to right a wrong at this Uni­versity, when someone said the F-word (the homophobic one): Waiting for class to start, a group of peers were engaging in simple enough conversation, when one of them said that horrid and famil­iar word. Them saying it actually was not what had set me off, I simply glared and continued to sit quietly, until they said something was gay a few minutes later and I told them to shut-the-f-up. The student that had oh so viscerally of­fended me, sat quietly as I verbally lashed out on them. I may have been a bit over the top, but when an individual uses a slur or epithet so liberally, it is more than infuriating, it is unacceptable. Aside from my own personal bias as a Queer person, I felt the need to speak up for any other LGBTQIA+ person there that did not feel comfortable enough to say some­thing, and furthermore to point out to any others that this was not okay.

Based on another interaction I had observed in which a student felt victim­ized by another, I contacted the Associ­ate Dean of Student Affairs. I outlined in an email what had occurred, but un­fortunately also told the professor of the course that this other student and I had shared, who took it upon themselves to spend thirty-minutes discussing micro­aggressions in the next class session. My advice to anyone in a situation such as this: Be wary of the professor you tell, especially if you imagine they will take matters into their own hands. As a result of the professor of the course “handling” the situation, the Associate Dean of Stu­dent Affairs considered it done. I did not. I wanted for this student to experience actual administrative punishment, be­cause letting it go makes homophobia a bit more acceptable.

I argued the matter with both my professor and the Associate Dean, but I was not taken seriously. My professor thanked me for my “honesty” and the Associate Dean claimed that they really did care, but as they had stated previ­ously it was handled. So I dropped it, not wanting to waste my energy, especially when feeling marginalized is not a unique experience on this campus. The true rarity is having it handled by a stan­dard.

Aside from negative experiences, in some instances, students that have felt comfortable enough to leave a matter with faculty members. One anonymous student that was targeted by a peer through the use of a racist example in a classroom discussion. Through email correspondence, the student was able to express that their peer made them un­comfortable and the professor handled to their satisfaction. Aside from situa­tions like these though, if an individual would prefer for administration to handle an issue of harassment by the book, they should have the right to, rather than fighting tooth and nail to have their issue taken seriously.

What many at this University want, is the privilege to come to class without being singled out for their identities, the least administration could do is take us seriously when we say that we feel vio­lated.