Another incident of hate speech found on dorm room whiteboard
On Tuesday, Nov. 20, another incident of discrimination occurred at Central Michigan University in the form of a message on a dorm room whiteboard.
This time the message was transphobic, targeting a transgender student who lives in Robinson Residence Hall.
When sophomore and Resident Assistant Jace Parker, who prefers not to disclose his hometown, woke up the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break, he didn’t expect to be sent a picture of a transphobic message on the message board outside his door.
The words, “piece of shit transie RA” were written on the board the night of Transgender Day of Awareness, which is a day meant to honor the memory of those who lost their lives to anti-transgender violence.
A woman, who Parker did not disclose the name of, erased the message after taking the picture and sending it to Parker. He said that when the message was brought to his attention, he felt “outraged, vulnerable and concerned.”
Less than 24 hours later, CMU President Robert Davies, the Office of LGBT services and the CMU chapter of the NAACP released statements regarding the incident.
After the holiday break, Parker went to the CMU Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equality (OCRIE) on Wednesday, Nov. 28 to report the incident.
He said that when he first met with OCRIE, they were very professional and perceptive to the incident. A few days later, a Facebook post by CMU was made at 6:50 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2 addressing the incident.
“I said very clearly that I wanted this to be as public as possible and (OCRIE) stated that the post was late due to a miscommunication, or something along those lines,” Parker said. “And that kind of pissed me off because how can they miscommunicate something that’s important to me?”
Central Michigan Life reached out to OCRIE, with no immediate response.
“This is not only just a word that is written on a board because an individual wasn't strong enough or brave enough to say it. This word is a direct shot at one the most important identity that I hold,” stated part of the post. “This is never okay, I don't care what kind of discrimination you face, ANY and ALL discrimination is unjustifiable.
"Another thing, CMU isn't the typical 'home away from home' to me, CMU is my home... Robinson is the place that I felt the safest because of the high rate of diversity it holds and the amount of acceptance that was shown prior to this... This one word impacts me to the extent that I walked into the room after the fact and just wanted to pick up and leave. I have never felt so targeted. I have never felt so invalidated in my life.”
In his post, Parker explains that the words written were not “just words.” He wants others to imagine themselves in his shoes.
“This is my home, imagine walking into your home to a word written on your wall that targets one of your main identities... How would you feel? This is not just a word, this isn't just a prank, this isn't acceptable."
Parker said that there needs to be more action taken against these acts of discrimination.
“This can’t keep happening,” he said. “I would really like to see a more tangible change come out of this.”
The next day, a post was made on the CMU Facebook, with the help of Parker, addressing the indictment.
“Make no mistake: Central Michigan University stands with Jace Parker and all transgender members of our community,” the post stated. “We were dismayed and deeply saddened later that day to learn of a hostile expression directed toward one of our own on a residence hall message board. We condemn this bigotry in the strongest terms. As President Davies said in a Nov. 8 communication to campus, hateful messages are an attack not just on individuals, but on all of us.”
The post goes on to list the number of resources that students affected by discrimination can reach out to and concludes with, “to all of our transgender students, faculty, staff and alumni: CMU stands with you. We hear you. We’re proud of you. We support you.”
Parker said that he would like to use this incident to bring awareness of transphobia and to educate people about the transgender community.
In the wake of the incident, the CMU Office of LGBT Services released a statement shortly after Parker’s post denouncing all hate and supporting LGBT community members.
There will be a support event happening from 1 - 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4 in the Bovee University Center Maroon and Gold room to allow students and faculty to best understand the transgender community on campus.