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Editorial -- Institute Must Respond to Homophobia

On Nov. 12, members of Lambda Chi Alpha vandalized the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity house and painted a homophobic slur on the sidewalk. Apparently, members of LCA were angry because TEP had painted over some of the Smoot markings on the Harvard Bridge. While neither fraternity was blameless for these incidents, the homophobic graffiti painted by LCA is especially offensive to the community as a whole. In such flagrant cases of offensive behavior, the administration must make it very clear that homophobia has no place at MIT.

The brothers of LCA issued an apology to the community today. The apology is an important first step, but it is also a slow one. The vandalism occurred 11 days ago and the apology came only after flyers protesting the incident were distributed in Lobby 7.

The slur painted on the sidewalk is demeaning to gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the community; it alienates and stigmatizes them. The administration's silence is particularly disturbing because this incident closely follows the publication of the Dealing with Harassment at MIT. The administrative silence undermines its efforts to eliminate harassment in the community.

The administration's apathy demonstrates a lack of respect for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. When racial slurs were shouted at four black students last spring, it elicited at least a statement from President Charles M. Vest.

The recent events at TEP and the lack of any official response show that the administration talks big about fighting harassment, but fails to provide serious leadership when incidents actually arise. The administration -- the President or the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs -- needs to publicly address the incident and re-affirm its commitment to eradicate homophobia and discrimination.