TEP Graffiti Must Be Publicly AddressedThe Tech received a copy of this letter, addressed to several administrators, including President Charles M. Vest.
Early Friday morning, Nov. 12, members of Lambda Chi Alpha broke into and entered the house of Tau Epsilon Phi. The brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha forcibly removed TEP's basement door and then proceeded to vandalize the house. They spread dye and noxious waste around the kitchen and left a bag of insects in one of the sinks. The LCA brothers also defaced the sidewalk in front of the house with the homophobic slur: "TO TEP ' 33 NERDS + 1 QUEER," which directly attacked the homosexual and bisexual members of Tau Epsilon Phi.
The president of Lambda Chi Alpha publicly admitted that members of his fraternity were responsible for the incident. LCA made a monetary settlement with TEP for the property damage, but has made no public apology for the blatant homophobic nature of the attack. The MIT campus and administration have largely ignored the actions of the LCA brothers, viewing the incident merely as a childish fraternity prank. LCA's attack on TEP was not a harmless prank -- it was a premeditated act of vandalism accompanied by a blatant homophobic slur. Such tactics are commonly used by hate groups to intimidate and threaten lesbigay people and other minorities and should not be tolerated behavior at MIT or anywhere. MIT's lack of response pays no heed to the serious impact of this incident on the gay and bisexual members of TEP as well as the lesbigay community at large.
MIT's harassment policy states: "Harassment is any conduct, verbal or physical, on or off campus, which has the intent or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's or group's educational or work performance at MIT or which creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational, living, and work environment." (Dealing With Harassment at MIT, p. 15)
The events of Nov. 12 clearly constitute harassment. The effect of waking to find one's home has been broken into and vandalized with a homophobic slur written in bright yellow letters on the front sidewalk definitely "creates an intimidating, hostile" environment, not only for the residents of that house, but for the many gay, lesbian, and bisexual people at MIT who are subject to attack solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. That such an incident has gone unchallenged by most of the campus certainly indicates that the climate for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people at MIT is, in general, unwelcoming and negative.
Not only does the attack constitute harassment according to MIT, the state of Massachusetts takes such offenses rather seriously as well. This incident could easily be judged as a hate crime by Boston authorities. Hate crimes, as defined by Massachusetts law, are "criminal acts which are motivated, in part or whole, by bias or bigotry directed at a victim due to that victim's race/ethnicity/national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or handicapped status." (ibid., p. 65)
Despite the fact that this incident clearly violates the MIT harassment policy and may even be a hate crime under Massachusetts law, the MIT administration has remained silent. As of yet, MIT has expressed no intention of punishing the fraternity members involved, nor has it made any public acknowledgment of the detrimental effect that this incident has had on lesbigay individuals at MIT. MIT's lack of response makes a mockery of its own harassment policy and of its purported commitment to ending discrimination at MIT.
The effects of this attack on gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals on the MIT campus are numerous and far-reaching. Some members of MIT's lesbigay community have expressed fear for their safety. Others have expressed fear of ridicule or attack for being "too out of the closet." Many of us are outraged. The lack of response by MIT's administration indicates that they neither know nor care how gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the student body are affected by this specific incident. It also sends out a clear message that the administration is not interested in combating the overall homophobic atmosphere in which we live and work at MIT.
We demand that the MIT administration, the Interfraternity Council, and Lambda Chi Alpha publicly address the homophobic nature of this attack, the ways in which the attack contributes to the already existing negative atmosphere for lesbian, gay, and bisexual students at MIT, and how each of those organizations intends to improve the atmosphere for lesbigay people on campus. Hopefully, all of MIT will benefit from such a dialogue.
Teresa W. Lau '95
Political Coordinator, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Friends at MIT
Kristen K. Nummerdor '94
GAMIT General Coordinator
and 98 others