By John Shmuel
Ryerson’s queer student group is scared homophobia is spreading across campus after its door was vandalized and grafitti saying “gays must be exterminated” was left on a bathroom stall for at least three weeks.
“I have no doubt that we were targeted,” said RyePRIDE member Jesse Trautmann about a series of students’ union stickers pasted on the group’s door and nearby positive space posters on March 10. The office is located on the second floor of the Student Campus Centre. “The amount of time it would have taken to cover the entire Rye- PRIDE sign — it was intentional.”
As for the graffiti in the Rogers Communication Centre bathroom, Trautmann was disturbed it was left for so long.
“Other students just let it sit there, that’s the most disturbing part,” said Trautmann, who called security himself to have the markings removed.
The two cases of vandalism come a month after security reported that men yelling homophobic slurs assaulted a student outside of Eric Palin Hall.
In the wake of these events, Trautmann feels homophobia is rampant on campus and that Ryerson’s administration and student executive are working to help out.
“The RSU has told us that if we don’t feel safe, we can go work upstairs. Even they’re scared that this could escalate,” he said. Lawrence Robinson, manager of security, said he hasn’t noticed an increase.
“Graffiti and vandalism is an ongoing challenge at Ryerson as well as any other large institution,” he said. Julie Tatone, a bisexual Performance Production student, said although she has never felt discriminated against, she has noticed an increase in homophobia.
“I think that it is rising with all forms of prejudice, like racism,” she said.
Ryerson sociology professor Doreen Fumia said it is “alarming” that there may be a rise in homophobic incidents. She is the chair of the equity committee of the Ryerson Faculty Association. “Ryerson needs to step up to the plate and have a clearer understanding of what homophobia and racism is to create a culture of equity and anti-racism,” she said, adding the school is doing its best.
The stickered RyePRIDE door was discovered by member Deidre Dixon last Tuesday. The stickers were quickly taken down the same day.
When asked about the comments written in the RCC bathroom, Ian Hamilton, director of Campus Planning and Facilities said maintenance staff removes graffiti as soon as possible.
RSU President Nora Loreto acknowledged that homophobic attacks occur frequently on campus. “Unfortunately, RyePRIDE materials are vandalized much more commonly than any of our other posters,” she said. “It’s much more common than I think people realize.”