Students advocate for gender and sexuality inclusion

Emily Flamme, News Editor

A first-year student at Quinnipiac University decided to withdraw from the university this semester after facing weeks of targeted homophobic acts.

Peter Jordan is moving home within the next four days but has not decided yet what his future at Quinnipiac is.

Jordan said his experiences began four weeks ago when his small pride flag was removed from its location and stuffed under his blankets after leaving his room for 20 minutes.

“I asked my roommate at the time if he moved it and he said ‘No,’” Jordan said. “No point in arguing.”

The first day after Jordan got a new roommate, he heard banging on the door at random hours for two days. One day, he found a pile of trash when he opened the door.

Then, over the course of the next four weeks, Jordan said pouding on the door continued along with trash and baby powder being left outside the door.

Even though Jordan reported the incidents to his resident assistant (RA), he said the only action taken was extra attention in his hallway.

Jordan said he had an anxiety attack the first night his door had baby powder thrown on it. That same night, he missed a Fourth Wall, a Quinnipiac theater company, rehearsal for “4 AM,” and was removed from the show because of it.

“It hurt,” Jordan said. “I didn’t find the energy to fight my way back into the production as they had already made up their minds. All the bridges collided and led me to decide QU was not the place for me.”

Jordan said he eventually was connected to Mike Guthrie, assistant director of residential life, in which he had more serious discussions about how to handle these incidents.

After meeting with Guthrie, Jordan’s mother, Lauren Jordan, wrote a post on the Quinnipiac Parents Facebook page on Oct. 18, about the hateful acts.

“I started getting messages from other freshmen, friends, upperclassmen I’ve never met or talked to and staff, all offering support,” Jordan said. “Knowing I wasn’t alone has helped me push through the final days here living at QU.”

In response to Lauren Jordan’s Facebook post , the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) called for a more LGBTQ-friendly environment at Quinnipiac. The organization released a statement and a petition, which has over 1,380 signatures.

“Unfortunately, attacks like this are far too common at Quinnipiac and are often met with inadequate action,” the GSA stated. “We would like the university to address the homophobic environment that LGBTQ students are subjected to.”

The petition calls for change at Quinnipiac including formally recognizing this incident, adding gender-inclusive and LGBTQ housing, instituting bias training for administration and staff on campus and using the Campus Pride Index.

The Campus Pride Index is an independent website that allows universities to complete an online assessment that rates its friendliness toward the LGBTQ community. The organization then sends a report back of where the university needs to make changes along with suggestions of how to do so.

The GSA is hoping the university will reach out to it and have discussions about how to implement these changes.

“In the past, we tried to make these steps, and clearly we haven’t had much progress with that,” said Athena Cuttle, senior psychology major and current president of the GSA. “We’re hoping the school realizes that it needs to happen and that the world is changing, and they need to start changing with it.”

Lindsey Downey, a senior criminal justice major and former president of the GSA, said the most important part of the call to action was the Campus Pride Index.

“This is kind of the most important thing for us because it encompasses a lot more than any one thing on our list,” Downey said. “I’m assuming right now, the university — if the university were to take it, wouldn’t score the best.”

Cuttle said gender-inclusive and LGBTQ-friendly housing should be a priority for the university.

“You want your dorm to feel like home,” Cuttle said. “You want to feel comfortable here and if you can’t be yourself, it’s not going to be a good experience.”

Downey also agreed that gender-inclusive and LGBTQ-friendly housing is an important aspect of a welcoming campus.

She said her roommate two years ago was transgender and the process of planning housing together was a challenge.

“The process — while Quinnipiac does offer gender-neutral housing if you ask for it — included us having to out our roommate to anyone that was a prospective roommate,” Downey said. “They basically had to say they were OK with living with a transgender roommate. Then, Residential Life manually had to match us and place us. It made the whole process very difficult. It was honestly frustrating and disappointing.”

Downey said that her and Jordan’s experiences on campus are not isolated incidents, and there needs to be change on campus.

“We know there were most likely students on (Jordan’s) floor that knew what was happening and why,” Downey said. “Unless the students are standing up for their LGBTQ peers, then change won’t happen.”

However, Cuttle said she’s happy about the response the statement and form have received and hopes this will finally bring about change.

“This has definitely given us the leverage we needed to start to get our points taken more seriously,” Cuttle said. “The fact that we’re getting this many signatures is mind-boggling, it’s so exciting.”

President Judy Olian released a statement in an email to the Quinnipiac community on Oct. 20, regarding the incidents Jordan faced.

“We are proud and grateful that members of the LGBTQ+ community are part of the essential fabric of our institution, among our leadership, faculty, staff and student groups,” Olian said in the email. “At QU, we celebrate differences as a source of understanding and distinction and are stronger because of such diversity of backgrounds and thought.”

The Title IX department is looking into the incidents, according to Olian.

In the Department of Cultural and Global Engagement, a LGBTQ fellowship position was created earlier this semester, Olian said. She also said that she and her staff will be working to “explore the various recommendations” the GSA stated.

The GSA released a statement on Instagram saying that it was disappointed in Olian’s response.

“These incidents with this student have been ongoing since September,” the GSA stated. “The school stated that it was this weekend. With 1,380 signatures at the time of writing this, the Gender Sexuality Alliance feels more members of administration should have reached out directly.”

The GSA said it is also disappointed in the school’s advocation for bystander intervention instead of creating stronger policies.

“Please continue to share the petition and have friends and family sign as this matter is important in making LGBTQ students comfortable, safe and welcome at this school.”