Campus rallies behind Rainbow Floor residents

By Farah Bassyouni Feb 18, 2022
The graphic that circulated on instagram
The graphic that circulated on instagram

Students, faculty and staff threw their support behind residents of the Rainbow Floor after ongoing vandalism incidents in Pfeiffer were made public to the campus community the week of February 11. Many still believe that the administration should be doing more. 

While the university sent out a school-wide email last Wednesday, February 9, and there has been confirmation that the students responsible have been moved out of Pfeiffer, there is still uncertainty about whether they have learned from their actions. 

“They were celebrating that they’re moving to Dolan, saying things like ‘yeah baby we’re out of here’ — they spent the whole day with their doors wide open,” Fields said. 

First-year Gear Moore said he was not surprised by the crimes, and even less surprised that the school seems to have taken physical action only after the news was broken in The Argus.

“These things have been going on since October,” said Moore. “It took someone to publish something in The Argus to not only get the word out to students, but to actually get the administration to move people out of Pfeiffer.”

Moore cited previous instances of where the university neglected to address “civil rights issues” claiming that such similar action could have been seen as recently as November, with the University’s silence in response to the death of Illinois State University student Jelani Day.

Journal Art made by IWU student Abby Hagan in response to Wesleyan’s lack of statement in the Jelani Day case

There was also previous controversy about a lack of the inclusion of the phrase “Black lives matter” in emails to students in 2020. 

Moore also expressed frustration with IWU as the only official information sent out in regards to a Black Lives Matter demonstration was one email, the day of, without mention of if students could skip class to attend, . Instead, it focused on how there would be an expected traffic delay.

This sentiment seemed to be shared by Asante Anglade, another first year, who reflected on what they’ve heard about other Wesleyan responses.

Marie Santogrossi, another first-year, commented that IWU seemed very halfhearted with any attempts in making students feel accepted on campus. “Asking for pronouns is the bare minimum. They need to actually make it safe for students.”

Students made flyers demanding IWU call out the hate crimes on the Rainbow Floor. Some students took issue with the fact that the school was not immediate to call them “hate crimes”

 All stated that they were not surprised the push for something to be done about the hate crimes on campus has been student-led.

Within days of the first Argus article published about the Rainbow Floor, a graphic first posted by the Pride Alliance went viral on instagram. Not only was the image posted on people’s stories, but there were several comments to remind each other that action needed to be taken in the form of physical organization. 

Last week, Pride Alliance released a poster on their instagram (@pride.iwu) that quickly went viral on social media. 

The poster stood in alliance with the Rainbow Floor, in light of recent incidents regarding Pride flag vandalism and slurs being said to Rainbow Floor residents. 

The administration is keeping the responsible students’ consequences confidential, with the only known punishment being the move out of Pfeiffer. 

Additionally, there has been a school-wide push to show more support of the LGBTQ+ community at IWU. CLA and other buildings have taken initiative with printing and distributing the viral Pride poster as well as hanging up Pride flags. 

Professor Michael Theune, chair of the English department, said that faculty reaction was unanimous in regards to showing support and hanging signs of alliance. While he said ‘the signs are signs’, it’s about creating positive support and a strong community. 

“I think the posters are an important visual representation of some true and deeply held beliefs. They demonstrate the support for the Rainbow Floor and for all students in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond,” Theune said. 

One IWU student, Melanie Corral, took to TikTok to express their desire to see change on campus after social media posts and posters are hung. 

“We want to be so quick to call out people who posted this” in reference to the pride graphic, Corral said. 

“I don’t see anybody else organizing any sort of events so here’s your chance to get involved,” and 

Corral then put out an all-call, asking members of the IWU campus to get involved, calling for “marches, poster-making, or drafting petitions.”

Posters and flyers have also begun showing up around common places of consolidation on campus.

Speaking of where he hoped this would go, Moore, who himself was heavily involved with the local activism, commented that while he certainly thought the University should listen and implement changes that it is important that this push did not come from them.

“We want Wesleyan to be with us, but they can’t pretend that they’ve always been with us. They need to hold themselves responsible,” Moore said.  “They allowed this to happen as long as it did…We need to pop the ‘Wesleyan bubble’.”

 

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