LGSA banner vandalized, displayed

(Ball State Daily News Page 1 (lead story) – October 18, 1990)

Chief Reporter

Students passing through the Scramble Light were shown an uncommonly blatant message Tuesday when a Lesbian and Gay Student Association banner was defaced and placed on the “fly swatter.”

“Don’t Challenge Bigotry – Dike and Fag Student Association,” read the altered sign displayed from morning to night after an unknown culprit managed to post it on the sign pole by North Quad.

The banner, which originally hung from the Student Center, read “Challenge Bigotry – Lesbian and Gay Student Association” before it was altered.

Ironically, following the Lesbian and Gay Student Association’s “Coming Out Week” homosexuality awareness campaign Oct. 7-11, the incident is considered a “hate crime” by the organization.

“It’s kind of like a slap in the face,” David Speakman, chairman of the LGSA’s anti-discrimination committee said. “We felt we had broken down a lot of barriers last week, but sometimes education programs don’t work when people don’t listen. This obviously shows there is discrimination on this campus and it is violent.”

A University Police report lists the defacement as a case of criminal mischief, though police Captain Bob Fay said the situation “appears to be a hate crime or bias incident.”

“That is a case which appears to be motivated by bias or prejudice,” he said.

Dean of Students Don Mikesell called the act “totally unacceptable.”

“We’re talking about respecting the dignity and worth of all people,” he said.

LGSA representatives said they are not going to take the defacement sitting down.

“We are going to pursue this as far as we can,” Mikesell said. “When we find out who did this, they will regret it. Ball State does not tolerate hate crimes.”

The vandalism comes at a time when LGSA has been pushing to include sexual orientation into Ball State’s anti-discrimination policy. The university’s current Affirmative Action code does not include protection of gender specifics.

To emphasize the importance of such a policy, LGSA representatives said they spoke with various administrators about the incident Wednesday. Speakman said a more satisfactory response about the issue was received than in the past, when administrators told them discrimination did not exist.

Due to the strong feelings of students and faculty on the policy, Mikesell said an Affirmative Action code change could be designed.

“We’re trying to find a way to move that legislation through,” he said.

SA Vice President Brad Hastings said University Senate is “looking into” a proposal to achieve the same result.

“It will be a long process to get this changed, but at least we’ve got a foundation laid down,” he said.

But the mystery of who performed the vandalism remains.

After Comoing Out Week was over, Speakman said LGSA was supposed to pick up the sign from the Student Center, but instead found it on the flyswatter.

“I don’t really understand how it got out of the Student Center,” he said. “It could have been an inside job from the Student Center, which employs many students.”

Joanne McClean, Student Center coordinator, denied such allegations.

“Its really simple for anyone to cut down those signs from the Student Center lounge,” she said. “We’ve never had sign-stealing before.”

Since the defaced sign was tied over another banner, an employee of the Office of Student Life theorized vandals probably climbed the fly swatter to attach it there rather  than obtaining a key necessary to lower the pole.

Hastings said the defacement, sporting replaced letters of the same style as the original, was professionally done, despite the misspelling of the word, “dyke.”

“You can’t ask for literate vandals,” he said.