LGBTQ Groups Fear Veteran Students “Jeopardize” Well-Being Of Campus Community
The Pride Center at Oregon State University called for Veteran Student Association (VSA) members to be barred from moving into an on-campus student lounge, stating that it is concerned about the veteran students’ “patriotism” and the “wellbeing” of students.
In a since-deleted open letter to the OSU community posted on Facebook on March 15, the pride center and the LGBTQ+ Multicultural Support Network said that they oppose moving the VSA into the Student Experience Center Involvement Lounge on campus.
The involvement lounge is a space for students to find out how to get involved on campus, according to its webpage.
The Pride Center, which is an entity of the Department of Diversity and Cultural Engagement, stated that their members would be “vulnerable” to the consequences of deciding to let the vet group occupy that space.
“The communities that our organizations serve are vulnerable to the ideological and practical consequences that this decision would bring about,” the Pride Center and LGBTQ group stated.
Specifically, the groups cite President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military as part of their reasoning for this move.
“This push to curb the rights of transgender people to participate as fully as they desire in US society has caused much distress throughout the LGBTQ+ community,” the groups said.
“We are disheartened to think that our community, which has historically fought to be recognized fully as human beings, [is] being forced to continue this fight.”
However, Trump’s policies weren’t the only reason for the organizations’ statement.
The Pride Center and LGBTQ+ group also explain that they are concerned with the “particular type of American patriotism that would be promoted by centralizing the Veteran Students Association in the [Student Experience Center].”
“We aim to resist the pain that US militarism has caused our siblings in struggle, and we denounce the glorification of the system that is responsible for this violence,” the center stated.
The groups say that the letter is not supposed to be an attack on veterans but note that the “campus LGBTQ+ community is built on legacies of justice that oppose military intervention and war.”
They conclude their open letter by stating that the student veterans are deserving of a space, but putting them in a spot on the center of campus “jeopardizes the wellbeing of many vulnerable students, including those [who are] a part of the LGBTQ+ community.”
The College Republicans President at OSU, Peter Halajian, told Campus Reform that he cannot see how this is not an attack on veterans, and argued that nobody cares where the VSA office is located. He called the letter “disgusting,” “shameful,” and “hypocritical.”
“It’s simply the reasoning given that is a disgusting attack. Furthermore, no one is forcing the Pride Center to be in favor of any war; past, present, or future! The fact that the mere sight of veterans services on campus is disturbing to them is just plain sad,” Halajian said. “The Pride Center can’t on the one hand claim to support veterans well-being (or support LGBT+ veterans at all for that matter) and then be against a conveniently located center for them to get the services and support that they need.”
The Pride Center deleted the above post on Thursday and made a follow-up statement.
“We have [deleted the post] because the open letter was written by and represents the views of individual students,” the group said. “While Pride Center and SOL student staff have the right to make statements as individuals on issues that are important to them, the posting of this open letter violated our communication policy.”
“We recognize the statement has been a source of pain for many individuals,” the Pride Center continued. “We welcome and support our veterans. And we share with you that the Pride Center assistant director is working with the Military and Veteran Resources advis[e]r to create healing spaces for those who are hurting.”
Campus Reform reached out to Oregon State University for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.