An alleged incident at Erickson Dining Hall has an organization at Miami University questioning the climate of acceptance on campus.
Members of the Spectrum organization reported Monday, April 9 a female employee in Erickson Dining Hall allegedly ripped table tents promoting Spectrum’s Awareness Week.
The week hosted an array of activities including film screenings, speakers, and a drag show in an effort to raise awareness of sexual diversity at Miami.
Leslie Morrow; the coordinator of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Services and adviser to Spectrum; said though goal of the table tents was to attract attention, the end result was reflective of a campus-wide attitude toward minority lifestyles.
“We knew these table tents would raise eyebrows and that’s what we wanted – not in a shocking way, but in a way to raise awareness,” she said. “Actions such as these confirm the hetero-normative atmosphere of Miami’s campus and proves we have a lot of work to do in promoting diversity.”
A junior employee of Erickson Dining Hall, who was present the night of the incident, said the table tents were being placed on the table by a full-time employee.
“(The full-time employee) said she was extremely uncomfortable about (the table tents) and ripped up one, maybe more,” said the junior. “She felt that it was a form of harassment in the workplace and told the managers about it.”
The junior added that the table tents were removed for the evening until the management spoke with members of Program Board and the Office of Equity and Conflict Resolution. They were returned to the tables the next day.
Morrow said that the outburst had no effect on the success of Awareness Week and that all events were at or above capacity.
“It’s a shame that not all students were informed of the events this week because of the disappearance of many of our table tents,” Morrow said.
Though Housing, Dining and Guest Services were not aware of such an incident, Bill Moloney, senior director of dining and auxiliary enterprises, said it is highly unlikely to have occurred.
“I haven’t heard anything about this,” Moloney said. “Usually the groups distribute their own table tents, unless they get them to us early enough and then we’ll distribute them. Once they are up, we obviously are not responsible for students writing on them or tearing them up. But if it was an employee that’s another matter.”
Morrow said that Erickson was not the only dining hall where table tents went missing.
“Several of the dining halls didn’t bother distributing the table tents or they’d suddenly ‘disappear,'” Morrow said. “The executive manager at Erickson offered to replace all our missing table tents, but because we had set them all out in other dining halls, we didn’t have enough to replace the original amount set up in Erickson.”
According to Program Board President Margaret Sweeney, as long as table tents are stamped with approval by the Office of Student Activities and Leadership and have not expired, they must be distributed.
“We had a similar problem with (the I Heart Female Orgasm event),” Sweeney said. “A student manager at Shriver (Center) just didn’t bother distributing them. It was too late by the time we noticed. This was the first time we’ve ever had this problem and it makes you realize you just can’t please everyone on campus.”
Morrow says Spectrum plans on filing charges at the Office of Ethics and Conflict Resolution, if possible.
“I placed a call to see what avenues could be taken in filing charges,” Morrow said. “However, because the student who (witnessed these activities taking place) doesn’t want his or her name revealed, it limits what I can do.”
Morrow said she doesn’t want to generalize Miami’s campus as intolerant of diversity.
“I know quite a few people on this campus who wouldn’t stand for this ignorance and several faculty members looked at the table tents and felt there was absolutely nothing wrong with them,” Morrow said. “This action does speak to the climate of fear present at Miami of homosexual relationships. Those flyers – and this week – were meant to educate students and raise awareness.”