Sarah Nilsson

This week brought to light that some people are unwilling to live and let live. In the wake of the flag and spirit rock incidents, I took it upon myself to engage in discussions with people who are in opposition to LGBTQ+ rights….. I discovered that some would prefer to not be reminded of PRIDE because it is not in their belief system, while others would like to segregate them to other states (that are more liberal perhaps?). Still others assume that white privilege refers to social standing, as opposed to equal rights… My eyes were opened to the fact that lack of communication is at the heart of the matter, and throwing shots across the bow is NOT the solution. I am saddened that the world (even our small Riddle one) won’t live and let live…. the irony is that we all want the SAME things out of this earthly life….. we want love, acceptance, and understanding….no matter who we choose to love, accept or understand.

Arlo Chan

It’s great that Dr. Ayers immediately acknowledged the incident with the flag, as well as open a discussion with Senior Management to address it and the intolerance that reared its ugly head. Without his support, diversity would be a lost cause.
I hope that the incident will lead to education about, and understanding of, diversity. Except for the required online module for faculty & staff, there isn’t any actual diversity training for faculty, staff OR students.
Personal attacks, such as the note attached to the Rock, are never acceptable, despite the rationalization that it was patriotic. Patriotism includes ALL Americans, not just those that one agrees with.
See this video with John Cena, “We Are America” – [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MdK8hBkR3s]

Rachel Rise, Pride Network President

I would first like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped with and/or participated in Pride Week. We couldn’t have possibly had the success we did without the participation and dedication of our members and allies on campus, and we hope to continue to make Pride Week a larger event in years to come.

It was with this same support that we were able to respond to the backlash against Pride Week as well as we did. From other students who comforted me when I was upset, to faculty and staff who backed Melanie when she was personally attacked and reassured the safety of LGBTQ+ students, there was a huge and immediate response to the negativity we faced last week. Because of this support and the positive feedback we received from our well-attended events, I can officially call Pride Week a success.

To the groups who painted the rock and left a hateful message to Melanie, who took down and stole the Pride flag, and who made rude and offensive comments and complaints throughout the week: We refuse to let the cowardly actions of an anonymous few define how we experience life. In fact, your actions have reaffirmed our will to be out, to be proud, and to be strong in the face of adversity. We hope that you will consider the harm you have caused to us and people like us, and learn from this. We are here, and we are queer, and you are our best allies in striving for our rights, freedom, and justice. We will always be here with open arms and hearts to you – we hope you do the same for us.

Kaye Godbey

To those who felt compelled to deface and demean our students rights I want to explain that the discomfort you feel when you are faced with people who refuse to meet your idea of acceptability is something to question and grow past not act on. When you hide behind dark of night or the cloak of your privileged anonymity to express yourself are you doing so because inside you know that your behavior is shameful? As Americans I hope we try to seek justice and equality for all and not just for “some” (some meaning they look and act like the ideal you find acceptable). Remember that to the privileged, equality feels like discrimination. Please begin to question your own motivations when you feel compelled to interfere with another’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Is it possible that your discomfort is related to your sense of loss of belonging and power? If so, take heart, there is room for you in an inclusive world too. In this new paradigm you can release your sense of need to rule and control everyone; you’ll be able to work together side by side to make a world that’s better for all. It’ll be a lot more healthy, fun and rewarding- I promise you.

Anonymous

I understand the LGBT community wants to be considered equal in the community. Everyone deserves that right. In an effort to be equal, however, you guys further segregate yourselves and call SPECIAL attention to your needs, further pushing yourselves away from others. People who may not have cared before now see it as annoying. Instead of crying about things not being fair, welcome to the real world. People won’t always like you. Get over yourselves and forcing people to like you in annoying ways won’t help your cause and further segregates you away from the equality that you desperately want to achieve and already have.

Anonymous

I’m going to assume any response not fitting Melanie’s narrative of hypocrisy won’t be printed.

Note from Chief Copy Editor Madison Padilla: Horizons will always be an open forum to student input and opinion on key issues. What will not be tolerated nor published will be any form of hate speech or derogatory statements against any on-campus group, such as the hate speech exhibited during Pride Week and against the LGBT+ community.

Editor note: I added that in to supplement our message of what Horizons represents, if other editors feel that it needs to be changed or added to (or removed entirely if necessary) feel free to do so.

Zoe Crain

The most important aspect of becoming a full, well rounded adult is realizing that you are not the center of the universe. That sometimes, it’s just not all about you. Some people learn this when they become parents for the first time, and realize how much you must sacrifice for your child. Some people learn this when someone close to them is hurt, or sick, and that person becomes dependent on others to continue living their life. Some people (and these people are the most ideal to experience) learn this through self-awareness and the realization that those around them are important, deserve respect, and deserve to live a happy life: that those around them are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

At Embry-Riddle, it has become clear that some students have not reached this point of environmental awareness, this utterly necessary worldview. Which, to be fair, is expected: the majority of our students, with the constant growth of each year’s incoming class, are 18-22 years old. We are not “real adults,” and the majority of us have not yet seen the world for what it really is. This idea of learning how to succeed as adults and how to succeed in the world is a large part of what college is all about.

Thus, it is unfortunate but not surprising that during Pride Week, a portion of our student body was subjected to such discrimination and hatred as we were. Opening a note with “no disrespect to our LGBT community” and then going on to graffiti slurs over the Pride message and steal a rainbow flag is fairly counter-intuitive. Additionally, quoting the idea of the right to self-expression, while literally defacing and stealing another group’s self-expression, is so hypocritical it is laughable.

The stolen Pride flag was gifted to Pride Club by a United States Marine. A veteran. A man who served his country and respected his country’s flag, the exact way radical patriots like those who stole our property say all Americans are supposed to. So forgive me if I say, you, who defaced our property and created fear and pain in our community because you “have such a respect for the nation which protects [your] right to self-expression that [you] are compelled to oppose [Pride’s] ignorant position,” are far more un-American than we are.

And don’t forget: theft is a crime. And the attack of a particular group due to that group’s ideals or values is a hate crime. Are you telling me that is what true Americans do?

Anonymous

I absolutely love the idea of having a PRIDE week on campus. But I feel it was not advertised well. I was not aware of the events we had going on until the day of. I hope to see more events and advertising in the future.

Merrie D. Heath

I read recently that a female Hollywood celeb described herself as a “straight, cis, Boringface McGee” (Anna Kendrick, I believe) and while I don’t always give credence to the leanings of celebrities that descriptive verbiage certainly resonated with me, in part, because that is pretty much me. Add to that mix that I am also a spiritual person of the Christian faith who has walked by the side of my gay/lesbian friends for decades, including during the darkest hour of the height of the stigma and fear of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s.

I loved and lost several special people during that time and I stood in solidarity with my LGBTQ friends as they faced bias and bigotry in a small town, including harassment and threatening behavior. Just as I stand in support of those on our campus – whether students, staff, or faculty – who identify with the LGBTQ community here. I sincerely thought that we had come further than this over the past thirty or so years.

Last week, I was saddened that some people on our campus took it upon themselves to express their views in a threatening, unkind, and unproductive manner by stealing and vandalizing property – the PRIDE flag and Spirit Rock – as well as posting unpatriotic notes taking an anonymous and personal attack on a single individual on our campus. I say unpatriotic because, truly, if one declares that they fought on behalf of our country and the rights afforded to all by our constitution and Bill of Rights yet denounces a citizen’s right to those very protections then something is very, very wrong. Not that we have to ‘agree’ with every single thought or action in order to exercise patriotism but we should not be expressing our dismay under the cloak of anonymity and the dark of night – and certainly not through theft and a threatening tone. How is this furthering a dialogue of difference of opinion and a true expression of love of country? This simply boggles my mind.

I respect everyone’s right to different views and perspectives. I understand that we as a human race have so many different opinions, cultural beliefs, political leanings, and spiritual understandings that it is amazing that we can all rightfully dwell in the same country and community – without fear of being attacked or abused. Isn’t this fact truly what makes our country so awesome? However, it goes without saying that acting out in a vitriolic manner is simply not worthwhile or productive. And, truthfully, there should be no room for such behavior in a collegiate environment, especially ours. We need to be better than the worst part of ourselves. We need to lean on each other in understanding and support – no ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Even if we disagree. I believe that people can disagree and still be kind and respectful to one another – especially in these kinds of matters.

Let’s conclude all of this unhappy business by vowing to live up to our ERAU mission and vision of having a campus that is “stimulating, safe, inclusive and exciting”. Let’s all do away with the cloak and dagger drama and instead be open to civil discussion – even if we disagree, even if we disagree intensely. No need for unkindness and disrespect. Really, there is no need.

Anonymous

Pride week had a great meaning and message to the campus about who we are as LGBTA. “A” is the stand of being an ally to the LGBT community. Yes, this means straight people who have gay friends and support them are called “allies” to the community. A great demonstration was shown as an attack to our community during this and goes to show individuals on our campus have not gotten with the times. The world is a diverse place and its entities are more than just LGBTA but also black, Hispanic, white, moms, dads, Christians, Trump and Hillary supporters and men or women who have served for our country as well. The world has changed in accepting these new customs in our culture and it’s okay to be who you want to be and live a life that is free. Freedom is America and America is where we all stand to become something in this world to change it and make it a better place. No matter what your background you have to see the change in the world and the initiative of many to work as one body and not cause war amongst ourselves.

Tiffany Wimenta

Over my 4 and 1/2 years at this university, brave student leaders, faculty, staff, and administration– LGBT and Allies – have worked so hard and risked subjecting themselves to hatred and judgement, in order to make ERAU an inclusive campus; but more importantly, a safe place for diversity. We have come so far, just in the short time I have been here. I remember, as a freshman, there were only a few brave enough to stand up for those too afraid to embrace their true selves. Those few inspired all of us who live out the norm to embrace our identity. Through this, we made huge strides for our university, in terms educating our community and contributing to our campus. It disappoints me that an anonymous few sought to suppress our showing of PRIDE – not only were they suppressing the pride of who we are, but also the pride of the achievements we have made in changing our campus culture. Those who persistently disrupted our week of celebration, disrupted our feeling of safety on this campus. Despite the intentions of their actions and the hurt that they have caused, they have shown me that our community of LGBT and Allies will not take lightly to the situation. Those of us who have worked so hard to get here will protect diversity. For those anonymous few, I don’t wish you anything bad onto you, but I hope that you learn and grow from your mistakes. I hope you can put yourself in the perspective of those you attacked, directly and indirectly. I hope you will come forth in some way and make up for what you did.

Anonymous

For people who preach love and acceptance, some are very hateful and nasty. The message of love and support shouldn’t be followed by hate because someone does not agree with everything someone says.
#PRACTICEWHATYOUPREACH
#TRUMPFORPRESIDENT

Anonymous

I am sick of ERAU being silent on issues affecting minority students. There are a good deal of women on campus now. Wonderful. It would be nice to see them not all become battered mats for men who think they have no place in the STEM classroom or the coed Armed Forces. It would be much better to see the students of color, international students, and LGBT students, as well as faculty and staff, shown some respect for their unique points of view and the strides they make to progress the leadership and emotional intelligence of all Eagles. You cannot simply be smart in today’s workforce; you have to be able to communicate with people, and not all of them will look like most of the students and staff on this campus. Sadly, I have seen so many students, faculty and staff leave because they were harassed and mistreated by ignorant workers, even after they reported it, because these issues are shrugged off. If you are unique, and if you can hide it, you hide it here; there’s no way to get an internship or a mentor or a raise/promotion if you don’t look and act a certain way. We are certainly a unique place in the regard that ERAU exaggerates everything that is wrong with American culture: blind patriotism at the expense of anyone who doesn’t go to church on Sunday, or drop to its knees at the sight of the American flag. This is crippling the university and the alumni; if discrimination is OK in educating global leaders, we are graduating racists, xenophobes and sexists into some of the most critical positions of our nation’s companies and possibly adding to our nation’s contentious position in the world. That is more than troubling. That is heinous. Perhaps the only part of this some may read is this: I would not donate money to that type of educational institution after I leave.

Anonymous

The Diversity Center, like similar organizations elsewhere in the country, thinks far too highly of itself — especially considering the campus it is operating on. We get it, you’re gay. You’re black. You’re this-or-that. And guess what? NO ONE ELSE CARES. So dedicating an entire week to hosting events with views that a majority of campus does not support, let alone approve of, and expecting everything to be sunshine and rainbows is ridiculous. We don’t care — not in a malicious or hateful way, but in a “I have more important things to do than award you a special snowflake trophy for being different than the norm.”

It’s great that you like men/women/whatever, or you grew up in an [insert ethnicity here]-centric neighborhood, or you don’t identify as what 99% of society would say you are. I didn’t come to this school to celebrate differences, I came here to learn my STEM major. If I wanted to hold hands and sing Kumbaya and talk about my feelings, I would have gone to a much cheaper state school back home.

T.J.

It’s a symbol of solidarity, a symbol of hope. It’s about different people coming together and celebrating those differences. It is, in my heart, second only to the American flag, a symbol so beautiful and perfect that I would lay down my life in defense of the ideal that it represents.

Make no mistake, it is not harmful to you. You and your values are not under attack. It does not change the way you live your life or interact with people. Do not, then, make it seem like a choice for people like me, who love and respect both symbols and what they represent. Do not take down one in place of the other.

As a community and as a society, we need to recognize the value in diversity and in diverse individuals. It’s the only way we can grow to be better people. Please, make an effort to appreciate those who are different. Because diversity makes this nation great, and it’s that greatness which is worth fighting for.

Luke

It is important for everyone to be aware of the diversity of students at Embry-Riddle and to show respect for all of their fellow students.

Laura Yale

I was deeply saddened by the removal of the pride flag and the hurtful words attached to the Spirit Rock last week. For those of you who belong to the LGBTQA community, I’d like to say that you are valued, you are respected, and you are loved on this campus. For those of you who agree with the actions last week or feel ambivalent to those actions, I ask that you begin to listen and that you begin to ask questions. Make a new friend. Make the effort to truly get to know someone who is different from you. It’s rare for people to change their fundamental beliefs, but empathy for someone else’s experience can at least create some understanding. I ask that you take this first step.

Tyler

I understand that it is difficult for many people to care about LGBTQA+ rights, much less be sympathetic to the cause. By not being a member of a group one cannot understand the struggles. Hardly ever are heterosexuals verbally assaulted, physically attacked, or murdered for simply being straight. That being said I refuse to disappear because you are uncomfortable. The reason behind having Pride is due to oppression and violence that the LGBTQA+ community suffers around the world. Pride is a celebration of life, love and liberty, pride is meant to increase visibility of people living in the margins of society, because we deserve to exist just as much as everyone else. As Americans when one person is under attack we are all under attack.

The type of hateful behavior that happened last week goes well beyond disagreement to the point of being discriminatory and homophobic. These actions are not acceptable. This is simply not the world we live in, unless you plan on living in your parents’ basement after graduation. Both industry and government greatly value diversity. Students of Embry-Riddle need to recognize, and learn to appreciate the culture of the world they are prepping to go into. It does not matter how skilled and intelligent you are, employers want to hire people that reflect and embrace their company culture.

Lucas

Pride Week was a success in some ways, and a disappointment in others. Certain students continue to contribute to the hate and negativity on campus from the stealing of the Pride flag to the targeted note left on the pride rock. I understand that some individuals had concerns the flag was flying higher than the American flag, however, that was not the case, and flag etiquette supports this. I would’ve liked to see the concerned students approach administration to work out the problem rather than taking matters “into their own hands.” All of the negativity aside, I believe the LGBTQA community has more people who support them on campus than they do people who don’t. Ultimately, the visit from Jessica Taylor and the Drag Show were amazing and positive highlights of the week. I hope we can continue to grow the positivity in the future.

Suzie Roth

I struggle to find the words to articulate my sincere disappointment and shock regarding the actions last week – actions by a few which seem to have so much effect on so many.   I have seen much growth in the way of diversity and inclusion in my 10+ years as a staff member here. Our campus culture has moved forward in so many ways and I believe this was a setback in many ways.

I have always been in support of other people and their views, even if they do not align with my own. Having PRIDE week on this campus is a huge accomplishment towards a more inclusive environment. It is my hope that this week of celebration will not only continue but also be larger next year. We can only begin to grow when we take time to listen and learn from others. You do not have to agree with everyone, their beliefs, or their lifestyle; but you do have to be civil and respectful. And expressing your views or dislike for people in a destructive and belittling way is never ok and is certainly not acceptable.

As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” I believe we all know better and I would expect all of us to take a moment to listen so that we may do better.

Nicholas Reinders

My thoughts concerning Pride Week fall neither against the university administration for its choices concerning a flagpole nor against the campus members who painted over a rock (notwithstanding the attack on Melanie). My objection rises against you, my fellow members of the ERAU community – you who say you do not care, who say you came here only for education, and who believe that diversity groups on campus should stay silent. What you show you don’t care about is the words and experiences of people different than you. Would you care if you understood why we are talking? I speak up to support the idea that I might be able to participate in civil unions, for myself and a potential spouse to be afforded the same tax, legal, and medical rights and privileges as heterosexual couples. I speak up to support the idea that I might one day be able to adopt, without being harassed by institutional obstructions. I speak up to protect young gay people from having to hear people use the word “faggot”, making those young people fear who they themselves are. Those are some of my causes. I don’t expect you to listen to or care about our everyday speech, but I hope that you might at least understand why we do try to discuss these unresolved institutional and social conditions that affect our lives. As you read this statement, you may again have resorted to the idea that you came here only for education. Alas, everywhere you go, you will run into people who have something to say, and it would be in your best interest to stop expecting people to roll over. If you do disagree with me or with us, I encourage you to speak up, to abandon your anonymity, and to clarify your thoughts, because I still fail to understand how you expect me to be silent.

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