Local News

NC State to rally against vandalism at GLBT center

Posted October 19, 2011 3:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 19, 2011 7:49 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina State University students are responding to vandalism at the gay and lesbian student center with a rally to show support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community at the school.

The Ally Rally, set for 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the campus' Brickyard, comes as campus police are trying to find out who spray-painted a homophobic slur and the words "burn" and "die" on the door of the N.C. State GLBT Center Monday night.

Organizers are planning to pass out purple wristbands to attendees as a way to show solidarity on campus, according to a Web posting for the event.

In a letter to the university community Wednesday, N.C. State's provost and executive vice chancellor, Warwick Arden, condemned what he called a "thoughtless and shameful act of vandalism and harassment" against the center and the campus.

"Not only are we a diverse campus community, we encourage open and civil discussion on difficult issues – the kind of discussion that allows us to gain greater respect and a better understanding of each other," Arden said.

"I am encouraged and proud to hear that once again, students, staff, faculty and administration are taking a stand in the face of a hateful act," he added.

Student leaders also criticized the incident.

"Any speech or actions intended to harass, intimidate, or degrade others is unacceptable and together we must confront and denounce it in every corner of our university," they wrote in a joint statement.

University spokesman Keith Nichols said Wednesday that there were no updates in the investigation. Police hope surveillance cameras outside Harrelson Hall, where the GLBT Center's office is located, will help identify the culprit.

Whoever is responsible could face criminal charges for vandalizing state property, school officials have said, as well as sanctions by the university for violating the Code of Student Conduct. It prohibits any student or group from harassing another student or group based upon race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

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

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