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Flag Vandalism an Embarassment

Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11

On Saturday night, two pride flags were taken from outside Unity House — the College’s center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community members. They were later found torn and muddied in the woods behind the F-Block of the New Apartments. The four residents of Unity House, which is a designated Safe Space on campus, have since expressed their discomfort with the incident and its implications and their concerns about their safety within the Kenyon community. Everybody has the right to feel safe on this campus, a close-knit space where students study, work and live. They also deserve to be able to express who they are — that, after all, is what that flag represents.

No matter if this act were conducted while drunk or sober, randomly or with hateful intent, acts of theft and vandalism are never acceptable. Last weekend, a number of incidents of vandalism occurred around the NCAs. Whether the damage occurs to a bike or a pride flag does not make the act any less reprehensible.

But we are troubled by the fact that someone desecrated a symbol of the LGBT community. We do not mean to ascribe intent to whomever did this — we have no way of knowing whether they did it out of anti-gay sentiment or general idiocy — but no matter what the motive, the effect is the same: LGBT students feel less welcome on this campus. While it would be nice to think homophobia is a thing of the past, we must acknowledge that elements of homophobia may still reside in this Village.

That said, the Collegian urges the Campus Safety officers investigating what happened at Unity House to ignore all speculation, written and spoken, and proceed with a normal and thorough investigation. If this is ruled to be the College’s equivalent of a hate crime, then so be it, but blind speculation helps no one.

Unfortunately, the sad truth remains that the person responsible for this act will likely never be found. They will remain invisible, walking past you in the Bookstore or the servery. But those students who support an open community, where everyone has the right to feel safe, must respond with visibility.

Anonymous hate weakens in the face of unified community advocacy. We applaud those community members who have offered support and provided funds for replacement flags. The hundreds of flags that line Middle Path speak louder than the two that were damaged. It is this overwhelming response from the student body which will make us proud of this community once more.

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