Student Programs staff picks up the pieces

Chris Toomey / The Watchdog
Chris Toomey / The Watchdog

On April 25, Student Programs staff discovered  someone had broken in after hours and defaced the LGBTQ Center.

Reports of the incident spread through the BC campus within hours after the damage was found, around 7:30 a.m. on April 25.

Though Public Safety is unable to comment on specific actions taken due to confidentiality reasons and because it is an ongoing investigation, the investigation did begin that morning.

Nora Lance, the associate director of Student Programs and Sarah Fisher, assistant director of Student Programs and creator of the PALS Center, both took a picture of the demeaning words on the calendar in the center and Fisher contacted security. Lance filled out a Bias Report, which was sent to seven different people at BC, to make sure it was officially reported.

“A student had found the calendar with the two demeaning words and right away, we took a picture and contacted public safety,” stated Lance. “Because it was upsetting to them we tried to get rid of it, but we took photos before and then one of the LGBTQ members said, ‘no, we want to take it down.’

Fisher stated, “Nora and I had gone back in her office, I had called public safety and talked to them about pulling information in terms about using door codes, and other things. While we were in her office we heard the sound of tape being pulled off the walls, so I went back in to see what was going on. Ali, who is the director, was pulling the calendar off even though it had been cleaned by one of the student employees.

Nora and I said, ‘taking it down even though it is clean gives the other people the power instead of setting those boundaries that says that this is not okay. So, she put it back up. She agreed with us.”

Lance also immediately contacted Faisal Jaswal, the assistant dean of Student Programs and Yoshiko Harden, vice president of Equity and Pluralism.

“I got a call from Nora, and I will tell you it was a very distressing call,” said Jaswal. According to Jaswal, Public Safety visited the LGBTQ Resource Center, Jaswal asked  them to check the door code history on the kitchen and The Watchdog office.

“There were students in front of my office, and then they left right before me and then I left, and then when I came in the morning, others had been there before me,” said Lance. “We had asked who had door code access to Student Programs that night and there were two codes that were used before me.”

Jaswal wanted to make it clear that he and other staff members were doing the best they could to handle the situation accurately and efficiently. “I asked Nora, as soon as she hung up, to call Yoshiko, right away, and Nora didn’t waste a minute.  Within a few seconds, she was on the phone because for me it is about either all of us are safe, or none of us are safe.”

Jaswal continued, “We know who used the door codes, and we know who came in that night because the office is locked. In order to get in, you have to come through The Watchdog [office] or through the kitchen. Both of those give me an electronic report. Student Programs was accessed by parties, after hours, who might have let other people in without consent or permission,” said Jaswal.

A member of the LGBTQ Resource Center, Max Bowler, said, “Honestly, my personal opinion is that it is lovely that we have this space and the resources that we do have in the Center, but you know, getting that out of the way that I appreciate that we have this space, we have very little support from Student Programs. We have been trying for a long time to get our computers replaced, we are constantly being blocked [when] we try to have events. During the day, we might have four or five people waiting to use the computer because they don’t feel safe going to the library.”

Lauryn Shinaul, a leader of the LGBTQ Resource Center, stated: “I think this whole incident is really cowardly that someone has to come in after hours and put slurs on our calendar and they, to me, have no opinion of their own. The administration are doing a lot to help by coming in  and seeing if we are okay, but with past instances like this, it has not really worked. A past member of ours was bullied so badly they had to switch schools. For a lot of our members, this is their safe space, because nowhere else on campus do they feel safe to go to.”

Jaswal stated: “The other thing is we are a very large intersect and there are people who are not okay with certain things, but that does not define us. That is not going to stop us; it is not going to stop us from making this a safe space. It will not stop our efforts for students of LGBTQ or any of our other students. We are going to take this in stride and move on.”