Student Voice


July 14, 2024

Letter to the editor

Vandalism on campus leaves many upset, offended

October 7, 2010

The UW-River Falls GSA recently participated in the national “You Are Loved” chalking event. Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally community devoted time and energy into writing positive, uplifting messages. In the wake of recent tragedies on other University campuses nationwide, this was all the more timely and meaningful.

Positive messages of hope and kindness can do so much to lift the spirits of people, especially people who are questioning their sexuality, unsure of themselves, living in pain or even contemplating suicide. When those messages are vandalized, the opposite is often true; the people that need comfort most of all are instead hurt by members of their own campus community. I can speak for this first-hand.

As a gay student here, I can say that for the first time in my college career, I felt unwelcome when reading some of the vandalism responses to the “You Are Loved” chalk messages, which have since been erased. I felt as if all the progress the LGBTA community had made in the past years was being attacked by a handful of words.

Words do hurt, even if you’re joking or if you aren’t serious, the things you may say regarding homosexuality have a real impact on LGBTA students. There have been many incidents, both recently and in years past, that illustrate the real impact that words have on people, especially people who are already questioning, in pain or who are vulnerable. So please use your words to uplift, rather than tear down; to help rather than to hurt. Don’t underestimate the effect that both positive and negative messages can have on your fellow students.

Patrick Okan