Issue an apology regarding Bozell's anti-gay tirade at commencement and establish a GSA at UD, or simply admit to the fact that UD does not care about their LGBT students and make that clear to prospective students.

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Issue an apology regarding Bozell's anti-gay tirade at commencement and establish a GSA at UD, or simply admit to the fact that UD does not care about their LGBT students and make that clear to prospective students.

This petition had 544 supporters
Maxwell Frazier started this petition to University of Dallas President Thomas W. Keefe

President Keefe,

I would first like to let you know that four years ago, as I was deciding what university to go to, you gave a speech that sold me on going to the University of Dallas. In this speech you highlighted some stats about the school, including the ratio of the catholic majority to the non-catholic minority at UD. You were talking about how UD is the catholic university for independent thinkers and how "we love our non-catholic students just as much and in the same way that we love our catholic students." You elaborated that in order for our university to flourish we needed outside perspectives. We needed dialogue. The university was meant to nourish catholic identity in the individual as well as temper it with opposing views. Everyone, regardless of background or creed, was to be made welcome and at liberty to share their thoughts. With this speech you sold me on the university, but I did not get what I paid for.

Now, I did graduate cum laude with a computer science degree. I certainly did receive an education of high caliber, and that is a large amount of what I paid for, but that is only half of what I was promised. We only recently were removed from the dreaded list of top twenty homophobic schools, but from my experience here that news was sour. The only way that could have happened is for the other schools to have become exceedingly more homophobic, as my non-academic life at UD cannot be described as anything but homophobic and toxic. To say that we have grown in tolerance, love, understanding, compassion, or anything of the sort is to say that the continents have moved during my time here. Sure, it is technically correct in a Boolean sense, but the magnitude is overwhelmingly underwhelming. At this rate, we might have an acceptable level of tolerance by the year 2189. So we are at a bit of a crossroads: either UD needs to make a change or it needs to honestly declare "we do not love our gay students. We do not care that they feel safe or welcomed. We would be better off without them, and we find no reason to accommodate for their existence, let alone their attendance. Their security, success, and spirituality simply mean less to us."

This is a pretty heavy assertion; I realize that much. To better support and illustrate my claim, let us look at our commencement speech. Now, from Bozell's introduction it is clear that you and everyone else involved in organizing the ceremony knew that this man was a radical conservative extremist. I cannot know whether or not you screened his speech beforehand, but it seemed he was invited to turn what should have been a celebratory speech into an aggressive and politically charged tirade. Certainly we are aware that even among Catholics there are political differences, so I don't quite understand this decision. This is a commencement ceremony, not a political rally. Now many people spaced out or fell asleep and thereby didn't notice his multiple jabs at homosexuals and his blatant advocacy of anti-gay discrimination. He obliged our student body to willingly break anti-discrimination laws and be proud to face criminal charges for discriminating against homosexuals. He very clearly made me out to be the enemy of my entire graduating class. He lamented a mediocre reality show being canned by its network for its patriarch's homophobic commentary, and a moment later called for us to stand against south park for portraying the pope the way it portrays everyone, satirically ridiculous. The hypocrisy and textbook homophobia were prevalent. As he wrapped up his exhausting harangue, a standing ovation erupted. In later discussion, it became clear that a large amount of people were made uncomfortable by the speech, some having paid attention and others not so much, but proceeded to stand and applaud for conformity's sake. In this regard, I even stood up for a moment, thinking we were standing up for some part of the ceremony (as soon as the ovation subsided we were asked to rise, so I wasn't far off). I cannot say whether or not you or anyone else in the administration condoned his speech. I cannot say whether or not you associated yourself with his sentiments. But for all we know, you did. In that moment, you had the opportunity to step up and voice any disclaimers or apologies you had for those of us personally attacked, or even for Bozell's insulting misrepresentation of UD if indeed you didn't feel like he represented UD in his speech. This opportunity passed without anything being done to salvage the commencement ceremony.

And this anecdote summarizes my entire experience at UD. Bigoted students are empowered. They are given a voice, and their homophobia goes unchallenged by the tolerant students. These cancerously homophobic students are not only accepted but applauded and hailed as heroes. The tolerant students are complacent and happily unaware of the homophobia. It's almost a willful ignorance. They don't notice the homophobia right in front of them but rather join their peers in applauding the bigot out of conformity. Those that notice, those that care, aren't given a voice. Your LGBT students and their allies are not empowered to make a positive change at this university. Your homophobic and toxic students couldn't begin to ask for more power. There is no dialogue. We are not welcome, we are not wanted.

Now I don't believe in complaining without offering a solution, or at the very least the first steps of reparation. In the very short term, and regarding this particular instance, it is my belief that a publicly issued apology is in order. Commencement wasn't just soiled for me and other gay students and our families. Several students and families were disappointed with the inappropriately politically charged and aggressive fire and brimstone sermon they received in place of a congratulatory and celebratory speech. Our happy day was ruined entirely. I would even venture so far as to revoke the honorary degree bestowed upon Bozell, as clearly he misrepresented our school and gave it a nasty stain.

Long term, a reasonably small step with great potential yields would be to ring in a gay straight alliance chapter at UD. Those willing to do right by their LGBT peers need to be empowered to do so. Those who need a support group, a circle of friends and classmates they can count on to stand up for them against bullying and bigotry, deserve to have that. We need a voice. We need a presence. Enough is enough. Those who are interested in getting to know LGBT people and their struggles and how they came to accept and embrace their identity need to have that opportunity. A GSA is not a sexually based group. It does not promote promiscuity, it does not aim to convert ANYONE's orientation in any direction. It is a meeting ground for those who wish to be understood and those who wish to understand. We need this group at UD YESTERDAY. The fact that so many people are entirely ignorant of gay people, our struggles, and the harmful effects of anti-gay legislation is beyond disappointing. If people still support anti-gay legislation, whatever, that's an opinion, but it should not be uninformed. People need to have the occasion to understand the implications and repercussions of their views. We cannot afford to continue at merely a glacial pace. We cannot accept this behavior any longer. I hold UD to a higher standard and would hope you share that sentiment.

You do not have to act on either of these suggestions. But you do have one choice that you must make: either make an honest and radical effort to remedy the toxic homophobia that plagues UD or revise your speech as mentioned earlier. Do not deceive any bright-eyed prospective students the way you deceived me. Tell us outright that we are better off anywhere but UD. If you are not dedicated to making this place a welcome, loving, safe place for LGBT students, you owe us at least that much. We don't deserve the trauma that results from the broken promise of "we love and respect all of our students here." Anything lukewarm or wishy washy is not good enough. My request is that you either make the apology, establish a GSA chapter, and continue campaigning for tolerance among students, or make a clear statement that we are not wanted and will not be accommodated for at UD. To be anywhere in between is to fail your entire student body. You cannot deceive and mislead people into thinking an environment is healthy for them if you are not dedicated to fulfilling that promise.

I would like to hear back from you. After the humiliation I suffered at the commencement I struggled four years to arrive at, I deserve that much. I would like to know if you are willing to make good on the promise you made four years ago, and if you are going to do right by me and mine. I would like to know your thoughts.Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Maxwell Adam Frazier

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