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

The tragic death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi is a sad reminder of the evils and injustices that exist in our backyards. It also reminds us of how unequal our society really is, as his death was in part caused by hateful discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation, something that is as inherent to our personal makeup as our ethnicity.

Unfortunately, although we consider ourselves a free society that promotes individualism and has evolved from a history of slavery and racial discrimination, we are very much not an equal society when it comes to sexual freedom and gay rights.

While we feel that St. John’s seriously needs to reconsider its stance on an official LGBT student organization, we do not feel that this is the only thing that needs to happen in order to prevent a similar incident from happening at St. John’s.

Clementi’s tragedy is indicative of a general negative social outlook toward gays, one that is further seen in the recent homophobic attacks in the Bronx. Rutgers University has a gay-straight alliance on campus, yet this did not ultimately protect Tyler Clementi from being tormented.

Our social mindset must be altered over time, our tolerance and capacity for gay rights expanded so that these incidents are no longer commonplace. Student groups can ignite this kind of social growth—this is where they are truly significant and important. Influence and education are the best tools that a gay-straight organization can offer.

This group’s existence on a college campus can serve to provide an open and educational forum for members to inform and promote understanding in their school community. In light of the recent tragic events, we feel that it is more important now than ever that St. John’s support and allow a LGBT student group to flourish on campus.

This would truly be a gigantic step in a positive direction for this University, instead of remaining narrow in point of view and hypocritical in practice. To continue to ignore gay students on campus as if they don’t exist and reject a need for this organization at St. John’s would be an unfortunate continued failure.

But we also would like to remind the University community that the approval of such a group is not the answer to this broader social issue. The administration of St. John’s can be continually blamed by those in support of a gay organization, but the more productive plan of action would be education.

Members of the St. John’s LGBT community do not need University permission to educate their community on gay rights; these advocates of sexual equality should not require authorization to promote tolerance amongst their peers.

Founding a formal student LGBT organization at St. John’s would only be a step in the right direction toward bringing equality to St. John’s, but this cannot be the end that proponents of this movement seek.

At Rutgers, we have seen how a gay-straight student alliance could not prevent the horrid realities of what intolerance and homophobia can cause. It will take an examination of ourselves as a society, something that cannot happen overnight, that will lead to ultimate equality and justice.

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