The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

Votruba’s e-mail a weak response to vandalism

Joseph Szydlowski

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My Northern Kentucky University e-mail account is overflowing with innumerable messages. Some offer discounts on “vi@gr@,” “ci@1is” and a whole host of products designed to burn off 20 pounds of fat per day. Though some may promise to double my pleasure, all I’ve gotten from them is a headache.

By far the most recurring messages come from the anonymous and amorphous System Administrator. A message from this mysterious stranger is never good, either informing me that I’ve won a chance to be scammed by a Nigerian prince or that the System Administrator’s previous 40 e-mails pushed my mailbox over its size limit – within the last hour.

But on Oct. 6 a different NKU administrator sent a rather unique message. NKU President James Votruba wrote an e-mail to students about the anti-gay “incivility and vandalism” student Jeremy Phillippi had reported earlier in the semester.

In the letter, Votruba wrote that “the university responded immediately.”

Really? Because The Northerner published a response Sept. 13 to an incident that occurred Aug. 28. One month after The Northerner addressed the vandalism, Votruba sends out this letter.

Votruba claimed he waited to protect Phillippi’s privacy.

Yet students had already known about the incident and the identity of the victim before Votruba sent this letter out.

The Northerner had already run an article where Phillippi had been interviewed.

This letter should have been sent campus-wide as soon as the event was reported. Some parts obviously wouldn’t have appeared, such as the conclusion of the investigation. But Votruba’s affirmation about values and NKU’s commitment to a campus where “all persons are safe, secure and free from fear or prejudice” should have been shouted from the Lucas Administrative Center’s rooftop.

Nevertheless, the diction and timing of Votruba’s letter still delivered a whimpering disapproval where a stern rebuke was needed. The letter pains itself to avoid condemning specifically homophobic activities.

What the message said was never mentioned, and the vandalism’s anti-gay nature was only referenced once.

Instead, Votruba wrote in generalizations: “all persons are safe,” “the importance of civilized behavior toward all individuals,” and “the freedom and respect that every individual deserves.”

Certainly, they are admirable goals. But the vandals didn’t target “every individual.” They targeted a gay individual.

Votruba’s letter seems to avoid saying what needs to be said: vandalizing university property with such vicious remarks will never be acceptable and NKU will punish, not ignore, any such activities.

Votruba speaks on the safety, security and freedom of all students.

But NKU will not achieve these goals without an administration willing to fight for and defend them.

Votruba, the faculty and the students must firmly and collectively denounce the bigotry that would motivate anyone to write “Fuck you fag; I hope you get AIDS.”

Otherwise, NKU will have as much a chance of getting diversity as I do of getting my money back from that Nigerian Prince.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Votruba’s e-mail a weak response to vandalism