The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Flames of the Torch: A Call to Action

This has been an interesting week for us at the Torch. In the wake of publishing a front page article detailing gay students’ dissatisfaction with on campus options, we didn’t know what response we would get from the St. John’s community.

The reaction turned out to be generally positive, from students, faculty and administrators. We received a letter from members of Students for Life offering themselves up as a place for LGBT students to meet. We saw people, enticed by our cover, picking up the paper. The article sparked interest on our website– more than twice as many people voted in our online poll than in any other poll so far this year.

These, however, are not the reasons we chose to run the article. We were not looking for attention, fame or shame. We weren’t poking the eye of the University administration that we believe has dragged its feet on this issue. We, as a staff, decided that this was an issue that needed to be explored and discussed on our campus, especially in light of Notre Dame’s recent approval of a gay straight alliance.

This is not the first time we at the Torch have chosen to write about this issue. Two years ago we wrote another staff editorial about the lack of an LGBT organization on campus. In response we received an offensive, unsigned letter from within St. John’s. The letter, which was sent through the official University inter-departmental mail system, accused the Torch of “promoting homosexuality,” which the writer said was “abnormal.”

That we didn’t receive a similar response as two years ago (and even received a few secretive pats on the back from faculty and administrators) gives us hope that we, as a community and the University as a whole, are making strides to finally acknowledging this as a real issue on campus.

Within two years, the response has gotten more positive even as our language has gotten stronger. We believe it is only a matter of time until the University fully recognizes the need for a student run LGBTQ organization. The STJ community needs to work to increase the pressure and shorten the time that this group of students feels minimized on campus. St. John’s administrators, as conservative and true to their interpretation of the Catholic, Vincentian mission as they’ve been to this point, will listen if the cry for equality is loud enough.

But it has to be loud enough, or the unacceptable status quo will remain. The University won’t act unless the voice of equality is deafening. College Democrats are set to be the flag bearers, rallying support for gay rights at their Thursday meeting. All LGBTQ students – and their classmates that support their right to be treated equally by St. John’s administrators – should get behind this cause, whether through the College Democrats’ programs or through other channels.

It should be remembered that this issue has cropped up in the past. St. John’s has chosen to “wait it out,” knowing once they did they wouldn’t hear about it for another two to three years. We can’t let that happen again.

Lastly, it is important to us that we thank the students who agreed to talk to us, both on and off the record. They were in the same position we were this last week, not knowing what the response would be, but without the backing of the free press. They were brave to put their names, faces and stories forward in order to bring a major cause to the front. We can only hope that more will join in the fight.

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