The current edition of the Student Handbook may not be the most widely read book on campus, but anyone who bothers to read the Policy Statement on Non-Discrimination will find a confusing omission.
The policy protects members of the university community against discrimination based on race, religion, color, age, disability, sex, marital status, national origin, veteran status and on the basis of sexual harassment.
It makes no mention, however, of another feature that tends to draw prejudice from others and spark heated debates: sexual orientation.
Toward the end of last month the story of a Rutgers University student caught the attention of national news media.
Tyler Clementi, 18, committed suicide after his roommate Dharun Ravi and fellow hall resident Molly Wei broadcast video of Clementi’s homosexual encounter over the internet. His death has sparked a nationwide discussion about the advent of cyberbullying and the larger issue of homophobia.
While the long-term effects of this situation are still unknown, it is already clear that Americans do not always view LGBTQ individuals with tolerance and understanding.
As long as this is the case, institutions of higher learning must have rules in place to protect their students from intolerant actions.
For example, consider the Rutgers incident. The university specifically prohibits making recordings of nudity or sexual activity without permission of those being recorded. Violation of the policy “may result in either expulsion or suspension from the university,” according to the official school policy available on the Rutgers website.
Even if Clementi’s death hadn’t resulted in their arrests, Ravi and Wei would still have faced punishment. But what if a similar event occurred here? Until the non-discrimination policy is amended, people like Clementi are being left out to dry.
To reference the school motto, it would display true “excellence” if FAMU showed some “caring” for its LGBTQ students.