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LCA and GAMIT to Sponsor Discussion on Homophobia

By Eva Moy
Editor in Chief

Lambda Chi Alpha, the Interfraternity Council, and Gays, Lesbian, Bisexuals, and Friends at MIT will sponsor a talk on homophobia on Monday, featuring Warren J. Blumenfeld, author of the book Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price.

The talk coincides with the first day of Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Awareness, or BGLAD, Week.

Blumenfeld's presentation will not be threatening or judgemental, but will address homophobia on a more human level, said Christopher K. Merrill '96, a member of GAMIT. Everyone at MIT -- everyone in the world -- needs to deal with homophobia, racism, and sexism, he said.

The topic of homophobia is "not easy to focus [on] without someone taking the initiative," said said Neal H. Dorow, assistant dean and advisor to fraternities, sororities, and living groups.

But Merrill emphasized, "It's an MIT event, not just for fraternities."

Blumenfeld is the founder and first director of the National Gay Student Center. He has also written and edited publications and produced a documentary film about homophobia.

Presentation fulfills sanction

The presentation fulfills part of the sanction imposed on LCA after several members spray painted a homophobic slur on the sidewalk in front of Tau Epsilon Phi last term. The words, "To TEP -> 33 Nerds + 1 Queer," were a parody of the words painted on the Harvard Bridge, "To MIT -> 364.4 Smoots + 1 Ear."

"What they did was certainly inappropriate," Dorow said. It was "not intended as a homophobic slur, but certainly showed the lack of sensitivity toward the gay community."

The two fraternities had reached their own resolution last December: LCA would pay TEP the cost of removing the graffiti, and the individual LCA members responsible would attend mediation sessions, according to IFC Judicial Committee member Daniel J. Dunn '94.

However, IFC went one step further and imposed the sanction that LCA conduct some kind of homophobia awareness program on a campus-wide scale before the end of the spring term, Dunn said.

GAMIT approached Dorow in January about inviting Blumenfeld to MIT as a speaker, and the information was forwarded to LCA. This "totally fulfills [their] sanction in every way," repairing the harm and educating the MIT community, Dunn said.

Dunn added that he hoped this would help in rebuilding the relationship between the Greek and gay communities.

However, Merrill felt this was a resolution between particularly LCA and the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. "I don't think it was [meant as] personal ... but it became personal because there are gay people at TEP," said Merrill, a member of both TEP and GAMIT. Merrill said he had depledged from another fraternity which he considered homophobic.

"I think [the presentation is] a step in the right directions, but it really depends on how many people show up," Merrill said.