Saturday, December 03, 2005

College President apologizes to gay student group; posters around campus were 'methodically' removed

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From the Southern Voice: Metro college president apologizes to gay group Removal of gay posters sparks investigation at Georgia Perimeter College By DYANA BAGBY Friday, December 02, 2005 A gay student organization at Georgia Perimeter College’s Clarkston campus says posters advertising the club and National Coming Out Day were methodically removed from numerous bulletin boards in several buildings, allegedly by an administrator. College officials take the allegations seriously and are conducting an investigation with a final resolution likely by Dec. 2, spokesperson Jennifer Stephens said this week. GPC Interim President Robert Watts attended Queer Equality’s Nov. 30 meeting and apologized for the incident, offering to reimburse the club for costs associated with making the flyers, according to Michael Hall, the group’s faculty advisor. Watts asked Hall early on Nov. 30 if he could attend the next meeting, and when he found out the last one of the semester was that afternoon, he came to the Clarkston campus from his office in Decatur and talked with students, Hall said. “He’s fairly supportive and was in full damage control,” Hall said. “He just apologized that it happened and said officials were still working on [the investigation].” Stephens said Watts is committed to responding to the alleged incident. “He does take this very, very seriously,” she said. “He’s very intently watching the situation. He said he thought the meeting went well and was open and candid.” ‘Efficient’ removal Hall said at the beginning of the fall semester, students posted flyers advertising the gay club on all of the bulletin boards in every building on the Clarkston campus — approximately 24 boards in all. The flyers were removed the day after being posted, and the same thing happened when posters were hung promoting National Coming Out Day on Oct. 10, he said. Hall said he had verbal approval for students to post the flyers. After discovering them removed, he complained to Provost Dennis Harkins and to the Student Life office. “Every last one of them was removed,” Hall said. “We’ve had posters removed before, but never so efficiently. So I made an official complaint and filed a grievance of the violation of the non-discrimination policy on Oct. 15 or 16.” Harkins declined comment and referred calls to Stephens, who said she was aware a complaint has been made against a college official in connection to the controversy. But the administrator is not named in the official complaint, and Stephens said she could not comment on specific details of the investigation until it is completed. On Nov. 29, Hall said nothing had been said or done about the complaint. “They’re just ducking and covering at this point,” Hall said. Hall credited calls from Southern Voice to Harkins on Nov. 29 with prompting Watt’s visit to the Queer Equality meeting on Nov. 30. Stephens said administrators are continuing an investigation into whether the proper approval was received to post the flyers as well as other information. She said the heart of the investigation is the posters being removed on two separate occasions and is based on a letter she has on record dated Nov. 15. Christopher Roscoe, 20, a freshman and co-president of Queer Equality, said he wrote the letter. Roscoe said he was “surprised” the posters were taken down because GPC is known for diversity. “It caught me off guard,” Roscoe said. “It’s my understanding this is a very diverse and accepting campus.” The college’s non-discrimination statement includes sexual orientation. “We pride ourselves on being the most diverse college in the University of Georgia Regents system,” Stephens said. “We have a very, very long history of embracing diversity. It is very much a part of our culture.” Roscoe said he was glad something was being done about the incidents. “We feel this is a serious violation of our rights,” Roscoe said. Original source ====== You know, I am really appreciative of the fact that I go to UNCG. Something like this would never happen here, although I am sure it happened in the past. Although things are quite good for our LGBT student group here, the group itself is 31 years old and I know for a fact that the school climate toward gay students has not always been as good as it is today. With time, comes progress... it is just a sad fact of life that the whole world just does not exist on the same 'time-progress' scale. For all the students at Georgia Perimeter College’s Clarkston campus: Stay resolved in your efforts... change will occur.