By Nelson Helm
A Washington and Lee University student house was vandalized early Thursday morning with anti-gay slurs.
The Sustainability House on East Nelson Street and four cars in a parking lot nearby were damaged around 3 a.m. The house had “This is the End” and anti-gay statements spray-painted on three windows. Four cars in Davidson Park had their license plates covered with spray paint. One car had the word “flame” spray-painted across the side.
W&L Vice President for Student Affairs Sidney Evans said in a statement that the incident was isolated and carried out by one individual. The statement also said that a student has been identified as a suspect. Charges are still pending. No police report has been filed.
Washington and Lee’s Executive Committee also released a statement, which was also signed by Beta Theta Pi fraternity, condemning the actions. The suspect was formerly a member of Beta Theta Pi.
“Though the memory of this event will not fade quickly, especially for the student who was attacked, it is the EC and Beta’s hope, as it should be all of our hope, that what will most be remembered is the response of this community,” the statement said. “The ability of one individual to harm a fellow student is powerful indeed, but so too is the power that we all have in our ability to respond.”
Elliot Emadian, the resident advisor at the Sustainability House, believes he was the target of the anti-gay slurs. He said that he has received a huge outpouring of support from students and staff. He also said that friends told him how they were shocked and personally offended by the situation.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I think that is a really great testament to the campus and shows how far the campus climate has come,” Emadian said. “It really shows that people are really taking it to heart and being great allies.”[/pullquote]
Emadian, a junior, initially was relieved when he saw the damage as he said it “could’ve been so much worse.” Emadian said that Lexington Police and Washington and Lee Public Safety were “amazing.”
“The fact that they worked so quickly to figure out who did this… was really a relief to me.”
Washington and Lee student Emily Danzig said that the actions were “baseless, and ignorant.”
“It doesn’t line up with the community,” Danzig said. “I was shocked that it happened because it’s so hateful and so aggressive but also because I just never think something like that happening—such open hate at W&L.”
Rallie Snowden, LGBTQ coordinator at Washington and Lee, said that she was enraged when she heard of the incident.
“I wanted to scream,” she said.
Snowden said she was hurt and concerned about the student who had been targeted. She also said she was concerned about all LGBTQ students on campus and the student body at large.
In response to the incident, Student Activities Director Kelsey Goodwin decided to have a banner created to show support for Emadian and the LGBTQ community. The banner has handprints in the shape of a rainbow. Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to sign the banner in support.
“The statement behind the banner, and the statement we want to focus on, is this was an act of single person and it’s not the actions that we as a larger community want to support,” Snowden said. “The larger community wants to say, ‘Everyone is welcome here, everyone is included and celebrated on campus,’ and that is the campus we want to create.”
Danzig said the most important thing that was needed after the anti-gay sentiments were painted was to respond. She said that something big and visible was needed to rally around those who are affected.
“When something like this happens we are going to respond and we are going to say it’s not ok,” Danzig said. “We are going to rally for love and support and be part of the community that everyone here should be a part of.”