Texas Tech Faculty Condemn Hate Speech Against LGBT Community

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After recent events on campus, 109 Texas Tech University faculty members signed a letter April 6 in the Daily Toreador, expressing support for the LGBT community on the TTU campus and condemning recent actions as hate speech against the LGBT community.

The Texas Tech Gay Straight Alliance said that they weren’t aware the letter was being organized until it was published, they explained that it was the result of collaboration between concerned faculty members.

The letter cites several incidents as disturbing, including the theft of the GSA pride flag this past year, as well as consistent spikes of threatening language toward the LGBT community on social media platforms during times of GSA campus events. The most recent grievance they listed was that a student group advertised for an on-campus event with fliers using a homophobic slur. 

Texas Tech Professor Tim Grabowski who works in Natural Resource Management was forwarded the petition in an email by his department colleagues and decided he would sign it. Grabowski said he feels it’s important that all of his students know he is there to support them.

Grabowski’s office sits near the Student Union, outside of which many students will go to express a number of opinions.  While Grabowski wasn’t present to see many of the grievances listed in the letter, he has seen other individuals at the student union, expressing views he saw to be hateful and prejudicial. 

“The ones that come springing immediately to mind are some of the folks who have been out at the student union building, I guess preaching, and not necessarily a message of tolerance, inclusion and love, but picking people out and borderline threatening or hateful types of speech,” Grabowski said. 

To Grabowski, these opinions seemed out of place in a university setting.

“The university community is based upon diversity, it is based upon respect for other people,” Grabowski explained. “Recent events that had happened on campus here were not following along with the basic mission or basic purpose of the university as a whole. But I don’t think it was a gay and lesbian issue necessarily, but it was an issue of diversity and respect of other people who are valuable contributions to the university as a whole.”

Mark McKenzie, Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas Tech, also signed the letter, and told EverythingLubbock.com that his primary concern is the pattern of targeted attacks on the campus LGBT community. 

“I’m the faculty adviser for the Gay Straight Alliance and there have been a number of incidents in the letter that have concerned me so that’s why I signed the letter,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie added that he didn’t write the letter, and if he had there would have been a few parts he would have worded differently. But overall, he felt it was important to express support for GSA and other LGBT individuals on campus.

“I’m very much a supporter of free speech,” Mackenzie clarified. “I don’t want to be seen as suggesting that a  student group can’t bring in a speaker.”

He reiterated that his decision to sign the letter was not related to the recent incident with event fliers, but instead the pattern on threats received by the group he advises. 

“I think the vast majority of Texas Tech students are very respectful of the LGBT community, but sometimes there are a few bad actors there,” he added. “Sometimes you gotta stand up and say, ‘Hey, you may have the right under the Constitution to do certain things, but it’s not appropriate under the civil society on campus to steal someone else’s flag.'”

The letter has caught the attention of the Texas Tech administration who commented on the issue overall Monday, saying:

“As an institution of higher learning, Texas Tech University is strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. It fosters and promotes the freedom of expression and amicable demonstration from all perspectives, but condemns the use of hateful and derogatory language.”

Grabowski said that having forums for free speech is important on a university campus, but he also hopes the Texas Tech administration continues to make eliminating hate speech a priority.

“Those folks are certainly entitled to their opinions and certainly capable of coming up with their own ideas, but [hate speech] just seems antithetical to what Texas Tech is here for,” he said.

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