Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | APRIL 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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Conservative Coming Out Week is discriminatory

As someone who has long been offended by Conservative Coming Out Week, I stand in support of the message Professor Ellen Lewin was trying to convey in her e-mail response to the College Republicans on Wednesday. Though her choice of language was not appropriate, neither is the College Republicans' shameless promotion of bigotry on our campus.

The College Republicans certainly have a right to express their views publicly and were well within their rights as a student organization to send an e-mail to the entire university community. However, the UI also has a policy of nondiscrimination, which states: "The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination … on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference."

I'm sure that students on our campus who have come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or are in the process of doing so, feel that this insensitive appropriation of a phrase that is endowed with deep cultural and historical significance for the community is indeed discrimination. In 2007, the College Republicans promoted a game of "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" as a part of Conservative Coming Out Week. How could students who are non-U.S. citizens, or are perhaps perceived to be non-citizens, not feel threatened walking around campus that day?

There is a difference between expressing a political opinion and engaging in hate and discrimination. With Conservative Coming Out Week and its accompanying activities, the College Republicans have done the latter. A college campus is a place to explore differing opinions, ideologies, and cultures, but when these viewpoints espouse hate toward other students, staff, and faculty, we must draw the line.

Allie Panther
UI senior

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