Students press Morehouse on diversity issue

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 26 2002 12:00 AM ET

A gay student organization and a national legal rights group are demanding that Morehouse College officials add to the school's student handbook the specific prohibition of antigay discrimination and violence. In a letter the groups sent to the Atlanta-based school on Friday, the handbook change is one of four steps they want Morehouse president Walter Massey to take in dealing with homophobia on the all-male, mostly African-American 3,000-student campus following the baseball-bat beating of a student nearly three weeks ago.

African-Americans for Safe Space Everywhere for All, a gay-straight Morehouse student group, and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund want Massey to include gay people from Atlanta and around the nation on panels he's forming to deal with diversity, tolerance, and violence at Morehouse. They also want Morehouse to provide diversity and anti-homophobia training to faculty, staff, and students and to allow for student-led forums on the issue. "We need concerted action so I know the next time I go on campus, my life won't be threatened," said ASSEFA member Gerald Wilson, 20.

Police report that on November 3 sophomore Aaron Price beat junior Gregory Love after Love looked into Price's shower stall. Price told police he interpreted the look as an unwanted sexual advance, but Love said he wasn't wearing his glasses and was trying to tell whether Price was his roommate. Price has been charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery and will be tried under Georgia's hate-crime statute. Love is recovering from a fractured skull.

Massey said he is happy to hear that the groups are willing to work with Morehouse on the issue. "We will engage them as appropriate," he said.

No time frame has been set for the school to act. But Lambda's Southern regional director, Hector Vargas, hasn't ruled out other action if the school does nothing. "There have been several instances of educational institutions being held legally responsible for failing to provide a safe environment for students," he said in the letter to Massey. "A proactive stance can help avoid such a situation."