University responds to concerns

Amy Ehrnreiter

Issue date: 9/27/06 Section: News
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After speaking to Northern Kentucky University administrators and receiving a written response from President James Votruba, Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer said he is now satisfied with the university's response to an alleged incident involving a gay student.

"Until (the university) had all the information we were reluctant to make a statement," said Vice President of Student Affairs Mark Shanley.

Kentucky Hall Residential Assistant Jeremy Phillippi reported finding an anti-gay message on his dorm door at about 12:30 a.m. Aug. 28 after returning from settling a roommate disturbance in another residential hall. Phillippi also reported the hall bulletin board decorations, including information about Phillippi's involvement with local gay/straight alliances, had been torn down.

After the incident, Phillippi asked the Kentucky Equality Federation to be involved since he was not satisfied with the university's response to the situation.

The federation then sent Votruba a letter Sept. 18 requesting the university be more "hands on" with the situation and issue a statement condemning the action with consequences for students who target others based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Votruba responded the next day with a written letter to the federation's president stating, "As with all complaints of misconduct, the university responded immediately, through its housing staff and the Department of Public Safety, to investigate the incident."

He also stated in the letter that the report was inconsistent with NKU's values and he found it important to send a message that will reaffirm the importance of civilized behavior toward all individuals and discourage behavior that threatens an individual's respect and freedom.

"When the investigation into this complaint is completed, I will personally communicate this message to the entire NKU community," Votruba said.

According to University Police Chief Harold Todd, the investigation of the case is complete and it is now considered inactive. Police have no leads or suspects regarding the incident and are hoping someone will come forward and confess or give them information about the vandalism.

Shanley said he thinks Votruba will make his statement within the next week.

After speaking with Shanley, Palmer said in a release he now has a much better understanding of the situation. "I thought Shanley was both receptive and supportive, having made himself available to Phillippi if he encountered any additional problems," he said.

Shanley, as well as Dean of Students Kent Kelso, stopped by NKU's gay-straight alliance, Common Ground, meeting Sept. 19 and spoke with the students about discrimination, tolerance and answered questions about anti-gay acts that have happened at NKU in the past.

The federation still plans to meet with Common Ground's board of officers to further discuss ways it can support the gay-straight alliance.
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