Outspoken: Corey van Vlymen

BY

February 28 2006 1:00 AM ET

College is
supposed to be a time of learning, growing, and, not to
mention, fun. Most people think of college as a time to get
out and experience the world. They don’t expect
to find themselves confined to a cold and unfamiliar
dorm room, afraid to leave. That’s how I found myself
midway through my second semester at Hampden-Sydney College
in Virginia, which was ranked by The Princeton Review
this year as the least gay-friendly college in the
nation.

I’m gay,
and that wasn’t something I could change or was
prepared to hide. I was out, and that was a problem
for my fellow students at the all-male school. The
harassment began as simple name-calling but quickly
escalated. I was the subject of Web postings, newspaper
articles, and other forms of humiliation.

My dorm room was
graffitied, and when I moved into a fraternity house my
furniture was covered with words like fag. I always knew I
could leave and go to another school where I could
lose myself in a crowd and be rid of the

intolerance. But
that wasn’t the right thing to do, so I’m
still here.

I chose
Hampden-Sydney as the school where I’d take my
bachelor’s degree because it reminded me of my
high school. It has a relatively small student body
and a low student-faculty ratio. I was used to being in a
friendly atmosphere steeped in tradition. There’s a
custom the student body shares at Hampden-Sydney of
saying hello or nodding to every passerby on the
sidewalk. “The Hill,” as campus is called, was
inviting and had high standards.

Despite suffering
harassment, I realized that my opinion of
Hampden-Sydney at the end of my freshman year hadn’t
changed. What I was experiencing was the result of one
group of intolerant students. Though at times I felt
alone and unprotected, the college administration
eventually expelled them.

Hampden-Sydney
has proved to me that The Princeton Review’s ranking
doesn’t necessarily mean a gay student can’t
thrive here. It just means that it requires a little
more persistence and tolerance on the part of that gay
student.

Tags: Commentary

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