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NC State GLBT center vandalized

Posted October 18, 2011
Updated October 19, 2011

— Police at North Carolina State University are investigating a case of vandalism in which someone spray-painted a homophobic slur and the words "burn" and "die" outside the campus's gay and lesbian center.

Justine Hollingshead, director of the N.C. State GLBT Center, said Tuesday that a student discovered the graffiti, still wet, around 9:20 p.m. Monday on the center's office door and display case in Harrelson Hall.

"It's a little unnerving. This isn't free expression," she said. "It was directed at the GLBT community and occurred right at the center of campus. It certainly proves that we have work to do."

According to its website, the GLBT Center works to create, maintain and strengthen a safe campus environment for people of all sexualities, gender identities and gender expressions by promoting awareness and offering educational programs and community outreach.

"People have different beliefs, and unfortunately, those don't always align with what we would hope at the institution that everybody can feel welcome," Hollingshead said.

Joanne Woodard, N.C. State's vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, said the university and campus police are taking the crime seriously.

"This is not the kind of message we want conveyed about the N.C. State campus community," Woodard said. "We've been working hard over the last few years to convey that we are an inclusive and welcoming community, and to have an incident like this happen really takes us back a notch."

The graffiti comes on the heels of what Woodard called a successful outreach effort last week that coincided with National Coming Out Day to promote diversity and inclusion on campus.

"It had been a very reaffirming week for the GLBT community and their allies on campus," she said. "It was very disheartening to see that a building had been defaced in that manner."

"We are redoubling our activities and reaffirming the activities we've been engaged with to be sure that the people on the campus feel included and they feel welcome," Woodard added. "And we want them to feel safe."

This isn't the first time N.C. State has had to deal with defamatory remarks on the campus.

Racist speech in the campus's Free Expression Tunnel – a public pedestrian tunnel where students can express themselves with graffiti art – became an issue after a message threatening violence against President Barack Obama was spray-painted the night he was elected in November 2008.

In 2010, someone also painted racist and homophobic graffiti involving Obama in the Free Expression Tunnel.

Those incidents prompted the University of North Carolina System to adopt a policy prohibiting actions defined by federal and state laws as hate crimes.

Unlike the tunnel incidents, Woodard said, Monday's vandalism was against state property, and whoever is responsible could face criminal charges, as well as university sanctions for violating the Code of Student Conduct, which prohibits any student or group from harassing another student or group based upon race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

It would be up to N.C. State's campus police and, ultimately, the Wake County District Attorney's Office about whether the vandalism warrants a hate crime charge.

"To have this happen in a classroom building, it breaks it out of that free-expression zone – that designated spot on campus where people can freely express their ideas, as hateful as they might be," Woodard said. "When it comes to a classroom building or office building and this kind of graffiti being spray-painted there, it moves to the level of being a crime. You're defacing state property."

197 Comments

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  • thethethethe Oct 20, 11:39 a.m.

    Purple spray paint, eh? I guarantee there is can of same missing from the center's supply cabinet, from the rainbow color spraypaints they keep on hand for impromptu group and protest signs. This is 100% an inside job, a hoax, a faux "hate crime", almost certainly by one of the group leaders. When found out, the campus LGBT community will go from advocting expulsion for the perps, to calls for understanding, and lamenting that it unfortunately draws attention away from the pervasive ""real"" "hate crimes". Anyone want to bet me on that?

  • NomoreKoolaid Oct 19, 3:07 p.m.

    Scaramouche, nice try. Never said I supported what they did. Nor did I say I supported that being there to start with. Free speech is not always pretty. I could really care less what you try and take out of context.

  • Deng_Kai Oct 19, 2:55 p.m.

    "all crimes are "hate" crimes and there should be no special treatment due to minorities. Isn't that what they are wanting - equality? Treat all victims equally." - TaxMan

    No, a hate crime occurs when a victim is targeted because of their perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, etcetera.

    A person can commit sex, drug, violent, white collar, theft and federal crimes without having a malicious intent based on group identity.

  • Tax Man Oct 19, 2:35 p.m.

    all crimes are "hate" crimes and there should be no special treatment due to minorities. Isn't that what they are wanting - equality? Treat all victims equally.

  • pm2 Oct 19, 2:31 p.m.

    What is a GLBT Center? Did they use MY tax money to fund this???

  • 4Strikes Oct 19, 2:07 p.m.

    "These are all well-documented hate-crime hoaxes. As I said, they happen every day. When you hear hate crime, you'd be wiser to question it than to take it at face value. All of these fakes made it that way which is sort of sad. The minorities and victim classes should be enraged that their causes have been diminished." Card Player

    I agree...and they should all be lobbying their congressmen to abolish the hate crimes laws and be treated them equally. As a former and potential juror, I would never under any circumstance convict anyone of a hate crime. If I am in the jury box, you had better come with the real thing othewise it's case closed before it starts.

  • 4Strikes Oct 19, 2:00 p.m.

    Gee, what a shame. Did the NMBLA center next door also get vandalized? I don't understand why these poor folks get picked on.

  • Stand-In-The-Door Oct 19, 1:51 p.m.

    Welcome to the real world. This kind of thing will continue no matter how sensitive and diverse people say they are.

  • haggis basher Oct 19, 1:14 p.m.

    "ps. to the Admiral - "life's not fair?" Would you have said that to the civil rights movement in the 60's? Would you say it to a woman who gets paid 75 cents for every dollar her male counterpart makes? "

    I bet the answer to that is yes. Freedom is only something they want for themselves and those that look and think like them.

  • haggis basher Oct 19, 1:12 p.m.

    "..I don't want to here a single whine about......"

    The word you were looking for is "Hear"

    Hilarious someone so short of education should comment on the education of others.

    If you don't thing think that writing "die" on a student notice board is sick then you have a serious problem. Folks like you are exactly why there is a GLBT center.

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