Thursday, October 31, 2019

U of M Investigating Off-Campus Homophobic Incident

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 at 1:32 PM

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Two University of Memphis students were met with homophobic slurs while attending a fraternity party over the weekend, and now the university is investigating the incident.

Luke Chapman, an international student from the United Kingdom, along with local student Benjamin Buckley attended an off-campus keg party on Saturday, but within less than an hour of arriving, the two were told to leave.

The two students were called “faggots,” threatened with violence, and made to stand in the rain after being kicked out of the party, as first reported by the university's newspaper, the Daily Helmsman. Chapman posted about the incident on Facebook.

“Tonight I attended a University of Memphis fraternity party, of which I was forcibly removed from for being gay," Chapman wrote. "Getting shouted ‘fuck off you fag’ and ‘go the fuck back to great Britain you faggot’ isn't acceptable in many forms and many might know that, but when the institution of study agrees with the people that physically threw you out, when the police in your area agree with the idea that homophobia is safe and a good practice, who do you go to? Where do you go when you're physically thrown out of a place you've paid to enter and you're sworn at and chucked out, what do you do?

“When the University of Memphis pays money towards this practice and you turn up to class supporting this, and aid this behavior who do you go to? What do we do? This is being gay in this south and there is no help, and there is no one.”


Two days after the incident, U of M president M. David Rudd sent an email to the university community saying that it would be investigated.

“An off-campus incident involving possible bigotry has been brought to my attention and has been referred for investigation,” Rudd wrote. “The Office of the Dean of Students is in the process of reaching out to the students and others potentially involved. As a reminder, one of our core values is diversity and inclusion.

“The University of Memphis is a community where everyone is respected, included and given the opportunity to excel. This is a value we embrace with conviction. We will investigate the incident and respond accordingly.”

Based on the university’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibility, students are prohibited from making “verbal threats and/or attempts to intimidate, including but not limited to statements meant to provoke conflict with another person or which cause reasonable fear for a person’s safety.”

Such actions may subject offenders to disciplinary actions, reads the code of conduct.

The code applies to behavior that takes place on the campus and at university-sponsored events, as well as “off-campus conduct in cases in which it is determined that said conduct constitutes a substantial university interest.”

Per the code, behavior considered a substantial university interests includes:

• Any behavior that presents a danger or threat to the health or safety of any member of the university community

• Any behavior that significantly infringes upon the rights, property, or achievement of any member of the university community, which breaches the peace, and/or causes social disorder

• Any behavior that is substantially detrimental to the education mission and/or interest of the University of Memphis.

Students who violate the code of conduct generally are notified of the charges against them via email and called in for a hearing with university officials within five days, in which they will have the opportunity to contest the alleged violation.

Disciplinary sanctions listed in the student code of conduct for those found to have violated any of the school’s policies range from a warning to expulsion. Students could also be required to pay fines or make an apology, depending on their violation.

University officials did not respond to the Flyer’s request for comment on the status of the investigation, what specific disciplinary actions, if any, the students involved could face, or what disciplinary actions the university has taken in the past for such offenses.

U of M’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Stonewall Tigers Gender and Sexuality, responded to the incident in a Facebook post earlier this week.

The group applauded university officials for their speedy response to the incident, saying, “We know this will be dealt with fairly.”

“We have extended our support to the student(s) involved in the incident and we respect the university's efforts in conducting a prompt and formal investigation of this incident,” the post reads. “But more than anything, we want to continue our mission of providing a safe space on campus as well as educating those around us to continue to create an inclusive environment that empowers our students, faculty, and staff to pursue their intellectual, professional, and personal goals.”

The group also encouraged the campus community to attend training sessions offered by the university counseling center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The Safe Zone trainings are meant to address and prevent discrimination of sexual and gender minorities.

“We implore you, the concerned members of our campus community, to seek these options out in the wake of this incident.”

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