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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 17, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Commentary: IC Protestant Community is not fixed

Editor’s note: IC Color is a student-run campaign that aims to make the Protestant community more inclusive for LGBTQ students and students of color after many came forward to detail prejudicial experiences they had in the Protestant community. For more background, read The Ithacan’s past reporting on these issues in LGBTQ students say Ithaca College’s Protestant community is exclusive,” and IC Color plans to protest for further change in PC.

The students of IC Color and I waited for the July 1 update to come, and it didn’t. We heard nothing from the administration in response to our demands deadline at all until July 6. And when it came there was not much there.

The community is now receiving $46,080 from the college. With the cutting of only $8,635 from the community’s $53,378 Ithaca College is still, in fact, funding homophobia with its students’ tuition dollars. The continuation of providing funding to a exclusive organization sets a precedent that the hateful actions of any organization will not be held accountable. In fact, their hate has been rewarded through a budget allocation check from Ithaca College.

The plan the administrators shared with IC Color solely contained the hiring of the Religious and Spiritual Director. This new position was shared with IC Color back in March 2018. This suggests that from March 2018 to July 2018, the administration took no time to consider other possible means to address the Protestant Community’s homophobia.

The hiring of another administrative position simply moves the problem from the shoulders of the administrators we have been meeting with and places them on the new administrative director. Additionally, relying heavily on the new hiree, who only began in mid-September 2018, to set things into motion means that there has yet to be any substantial action to address these issues. There could be new freshmen who signed their name at the org fair who are completely unaware of the bigoted views of the Protestant Community. How is this looking out for Ithaca College students?

It does no good to hire somebody new when the hateful bigoted people still claim the space of Muller Chapel. There are currently adults serving on the board who have unprofessionally discussed the private lives of queer students in board meetings. They have yet to be held accountable? Where is the justice? Why are we still waiting for justice?

Despite not meeting any of IC Color’s demands, the administration offered me my chapel position back. But, they refused any sort of back pay on the hours I lost from being harassed out of the position to begin with. It seems ridiculous to offer me my position back without addressing the hate that resides in the chapel. And so, I asked the administration, “do you firmly believe you have addressed the harassment and homophobia that it is safe for me or any other LGBTQ student to walk into the Muller chapel?” Unsurprisingly, I have yet to receive an answer.

What does that say, that they can’t even promise me safety in my on-campus job? They have yet to provide me a safe space on campus, but have justified the hate and harassment that have made me unsafe through their continuation of funding of the Protestant Community. Ithaca College has shown these bigots and harassers that what they have done is acceptable and will be continued to be supported by the college.

I cannot yet step foot in the chapel until I know that I am safe. I cannot accept this position until I know that anyone, truly anyone, can walk into Muller chapel. Until true systemic change occurs, not through hiring another administrator, but by holding people accountable for their bigotry, until Ithaca College takes responsibility for the ways they have allowed this kind of organization to take up residency on their campus, I will not return to my chapel position until the administration really takes its students’ livelihood seriously. I will not return to my chapel position until our demands are actually met.

I have been fighting for this for almost a year now, and I have no intention to stop. I hope you will join me. Although this fight for me has been aimed at the Protestant Community, this frustration is one that runs deep within most students here at IC. IC has thrown around the words of “diversity” and “inclusion” more and more with each passing year. I know for many of us, this place is neither diverse nor inclusive.

We, the students see a side of IC that the administration cannot — which makes our opinions and input incredibly important. The administration’s first priority will always be to the institution. This is proven by the ways in which the administration waits for the students who are organizing to graduate. This is proven by the ways the administration spends more effort demobilizing student organizers than addressing their grievances. But isn’t their silence and inaction a form of violence and injustice?

It’s time for Ithaca College to stop profiting off marginalized communities they don’t even listen to. Which means, we as a student body must take on the responsibility of correcting these injustices ourselves, and to fight for the truly diverse and inclusive campus we all deserve.