As Law Enforcement Pursues Morehouse Hate Crime, Lambda Legal Asks College President To Take Specific Steps To Prevent Further Violence
(ATLANTA, Friday, November 22, 2002) - In a letter sent to Morehouse College today, Lambda Legal, working with the student/faculty/alumni group African Americans for Safe Space Everywhere For All, said the college’s response this week to an anti-gay beating on campus “was encouraging, but it was not enough.” In today’s letter, Lambda Legal told Morehouse President Walter Massey that educational institutions have both a moral and a legal obligation to protect students from harm and that taking proactive steps to address anti-gay bigotry and violence can help institutions meet their legal responsibility. “It’s clear to us that, so far, local law enforcement is handling this hate crime properly,” said Hector Vargas, Director of Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, which has worked with local police officials in the past to ensure that anti-gay violence is addressed adequately and has monitored the response to the Morehouse beating. “Morehouse is way behind law enforcement in treating this hate crime seriously, which it needs to do to help prevent additional anti-gay hate crimes.” On Nov. 3, Morehouse student Gregory Love was beaten severely with a baseball bat in a communal shower at the college. Sophomore Aaron Price reportedly told campus police that Love looked at him in the shower, and Price used that as an excuse for the brutal beating. Tuesday, more than two weeks after the beating, Massey spoke to a group of 300 students and said he would form a committee to address diversity on campus. Students reportedly were not allowed to ask questions in the session with Massey, which was not open to the public or media. Lambda Legal has been working with African Americans for Safe Space Everywhere For All to circulate a petition among university and community members encouraging Morehouse to take long-term, substantive action against anti-gay bigotry and violence on campus. In today’s letter, Lambda Legal urged Massey to take several specific steps, including:
- Change the Morehouse student handbook and policies to include sexual orientation and explicitly prohibit anti-gay discrimination and violence.
- Ensure that the committee formed to address diversity specifically addresses homophobia and that the committee is diverse and representative.
- Support student-led forums and provide an opportunity for the campus community to ask questions and make comments about the attack and the college’s response.
- Provide training to students, faculty and staff on homophobia and diversity (which Lambda Legal has helped other educational institutions provide and today offered to help Morehouse provide).
“By making a dedicated effort to combat homophobia, you will make Morehouse a better place for the gay students, faculty, and staff at the college,” Lambda Legal said in today’s letter. “Just as importantly, you will instill in all Morehouse men the lofty values that symbolize your proud institution.” Lambda Legal will continue working closely with African Americans for Safe Space Everywhere For All to ensure that all students are safe and treated with dignity, and will continue monitoring Morehouse’s response to this hate crime to ensure that the college is meeting its legal obligations, Vargas said. For more information, read the full text of Lambda Legal’s letter to Massey. More on African Americans for Safe Space Everywhere For All - including the petition being circulated on campus and in the community - is at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ASSEFA.