By Claire Van Raaphorst
Albion College’s campus safety officials have notified three students involved in burning a gay pride flag on Oct. 18 that they will receive no punishment for burning the flag, said the students involved.
Ken Snyder, director of campus safety, declined to comment on the situation. He cited the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as his reason for not explaining the matter further.
Two of the three students involved commented on the situation following the decision not to punish them.
“I am deeply sorry that I didn’t stop the incident from occurring in the first place, sorry to anyone who was affected by it,” said a Rochester first-year student who was present for the flag burning. She requested anonymity due to concerns about her reputation.
The student involved who kept the flag described the reasoning behind the college’s decision not to punish the students. The Muskegon first-year said in his own opinion that the students involved were not punished because “the college doesn’t condone this action, and they know people will be upset but it wasn’t public, it wasn’t targeting one person and no one saw it happen.” He requested anonymity for fear of safety and reputation.
Sally Walker, VP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, was contacted multiple times by the Pleiad to comment. She did not return comment by publication.
The student who burned the flag declined to comment on his reasoning. However, he described the flag as being bigger than a piece of paper and he stated it was almost completely burned.
The incident took place on Oct. 18 behind Wesley Hall following events to celebrate Coming Out Week. The eventsupports people who decide to declare their sexual orientation publicly. The yearly event, held on college campuses throughout the country, was celebrated at Albion with a parade and speeches.
Following the incident, the roommate of one of the students decided he needed to do something. Andy Leyder, Linden first-year,went to his student mentor, Eric Highers, Monroe junior, for help in deciding whether to go to campus safety to discuss the incident.
“I was incredibly upset when I heard about this event—many of the LGBTQ (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning) juniors had heard about the tarring incident that happened before I came here, but I never thought I would have to deal with something like this on campus,” Highers said. “This was such a public act of hate with such contempt for our community.”
Highers was referring to an incident that occurred three years ago when the Albion College rock on the quad was tarred during the Coming Out Week that year.
Highers and the roommate went to Campus Safety on Oct. 21 and discussed the situation with Campus Safety Director Ken Snyder. Snyder said he had information coming in about the incident as early as Oct. 19.
“I’m a minority and I know what it’s like to be discriminated against and no one deserves to be discriminated against, no matter who they are,” Leyder said.
Other students also went to campus safety with information about the incident, including those who had seen the flag and heard the student who kept the flag talking about how all the gays were going to ‘burn in hell’ and that he just saw the ‘fag parade’.
Based on the interviews and information, Snyder then conducted a search of the room while the student was at work, said the roommate. The flag was found and is now in the possession of campus safety.