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Chalk writing targets UWRF minority groups

October 7, 2010

On the morning of Oct. 6, hate words written in chalk were discovered on UW-River Falls’ campus, said Gender and Sexuality Alliance Co-Chair Joanna Schanno.

The vandalism was directed towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community. It was the third time within 12 hours that the chalk messages had been identified. The messages first appeared at night. Twice they were identified and erased, Schanno said.

University Police have identified and forwarded the name of the suspect, said Director of Student Life Paul Shepherd.

On Oct. 5, members of GSA partook in a nationwide event called the “You are Loved” chalk project. Along side the words written by GSA, the vandalism appeared. Some of the words specified notions of suicide, which has been a recent national concern for the gay community, Schanno said.

The project was intended to be a positive message for those struggling with identity, said Falcon Programs LGBTQ Programmer Aaron Bergman.

“We wanted to tell people that they matter to this campus,” Bergman said. “It was meant to help those struggling with suicide and depression.”

“There has been overwhelming support from the institution, it’s good to know that we are not alone,” Schanno said.

Shepherd said that the Student Life office stands to provide students with a safe place to react to issues such as the ones that came from the vandalism.

Sociocultural Coordinator Ashley Olson said that it is important for individuals to express their feelings on the issue, to establish an entity.

GSA Faculty Advisor Rellen Hardke said that she encourages faculty to talk about the vandalism in the classroom.

Student Senate President Lee Monson and Bergman both offered their personal services to those who wish to discuss or express their feelings on the incident.

There will be resources made available over the week of Oct. 11, which is National Coming Out Week.