|Dissenting Voices Unheard
Your article, Dissent On Campus, is remarkable, but unfortunately to some extent, as much for what it failed to mention as what it did.
It is interesting to recall the spring 1992 Waterman takeover
that resulted in the creation of another shantytown on The Green,
this time named Diversity University by its creators. I can
recall leaving Wheeler House with my fellow historic preservation
grad students and noting the beginning of the takeover next door.
We looked it over, looked at each other, and, being a few years
older than most of the undergrads apparently involved, mumbled
something about spring and hormones.
Being, at that time, heavily involved in local, state, and national
efforts in the ongoing battle for equal treatment of gay, lesbian,
bisexual, and transgendered people, I watched the growth and evolution
of the campus protest. (Its purported direction fell under the
general rubric of advocating multiculturalism.) It was interesting
to note, following hard on the heels of Vermonts amendment of
state civil rights laws to bar discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation and the unsuccessful effort by a brave, young
black gay man named Winston Braithwaite for acceptance by a campus
fraternity, how the proponents of Diversity U had to be negotiated
with, before they found themselves able to welcome the inclusion
of g/l/b/t equal rights concerns in their programme.
At that time, the university (UVM, that is) had an active g/l/b/t
student organization whose members conducted a range of awareness
programs involving and usually led by students who self-identified
as g/l/b/t in their orientation. With the involvement of many
UVM students in the battle in Montpelier for the state civil rights
bill, and growing nationwide discontent with military discrimination
(an outgrowth of outrageous statements and conduct by the Defense
Department at the time of the Persian Gulf conflict) these were
busy times for Vermonts and for UVMs very visible gay community.
It is sad to note, therefore, the complete absence of any reference
to these matters in your article. The oversight tends to perpetuate
a centuries-old exclusion of the efforts, the contribution and
perhaps even the existence of people whose sexuality does not
meet with sympathy in the mainstream of society.
I hope there is still an active and visible g/l/b/t student community
at UVM, and I think I even hope that when next springs hormonal
surges move them, they will show up on your doorstep to remind
you of the inestimable value of inclusion, and of protest, open
argumentation and debate, especially in the university community.
Gene F. Barfield G92
J. Stuart Torrey 41
Robert O. Sinclair