Prejudice and stereotypes still present at USF

The headline likely caused a knee-jerk response, probably a lot of “NOs!”: “Should Gays go Greek?” it read.

“Oh, boy. Here we go,” I thought. Having read about a lot of non-traditional issues in The Oracle during the past four years, I figured this one would definitely get some response.

Then I read the quotes in the Sept. 25 Oracle article by Ryan Meehan. Here are the highlights:

Derek Gannotta of Sigma Epsilon: “Honestly, I probably wouldn’t think much of it, just as long as, you know, they keep their activities to themselves.”

Joel Playford of Kappa Sigma: “It’s OK, because fraternities are about different things. But I wouldn’t promote (homosexuality) within a fraternity; maybe (it’s more fit for) a club. Actually, it might be a little too close for brotherhood.”

Desiree Medley, USF Freshman: “Gay people don’t walk around kissing each other. They act like normal people.”

Judy Genshaft, USF President: “I want to make it clear that we are an open and non-discriminating university. And I would just hope that all my students would have an open mind to diversity.”

Well, President Genshaft, it seems like all your students are not on the same page.

Nondiscrimination means different things to different people. For some, it may be the act of tolerating something you would otherwise publicly oppose, except that some law or rule — legal or social — prohibits you. Others may see it as accepting something you don’t view as part of your value system but would respect regardless of an authority figure mandating such.

Instead of reading “Should Gays go Greek?” the headline should have read “When Gays go Greek.” Gone, hopefully, are the days when gays were stereotyped as pedophiles. Today’s gays are priests, physicians and, yes, politicians. Maybe Mr. Gannotta should think about that the next time he goes to the doctor’s office for a sore throat or to the polls to cast his vote.

Mr. Playford didn’t seem to be able to make up his mind about the issue. On one hand, “It’s OK,” he says, but as he continues to talk, his true feelings surface. Pick a side.

If you don’t want to see a fraternity founded by a gay membership at USF, say so. If you don’t care, stick with those comments. Trying to be politically correct with a conservative attitude doesn’t cut it, and it shows.

There’s nothing wrong with leaning right or left; just wear your colors proudly.

As for Ms. Medley’s comments, since when did kissing become an abhorrent and abnormal act? Oh yeah — when gays started doing it.

College isn’t a place where people go for sensitivity seminars. If anything, most graduates emerge ruthless and cutthroat, ready to eat or be eaten by the competition. What universities allow for, however, is an open ground for differences — sexual, religious, ethnic or academic.

President Genshaft’s comments were noble — but I’d expect nothing less from the university’s president.

The students’ comments, on the other hand, seemed insincere.

The American media spawned “The Year of the Gays” a few months ago, with nonstop coverage of gay marriages, Supreme Court rulings on gay sex and coverage of openly gay religious leaders. The gay community didn’t suddenly decide collectively that they would fax hundreds of press releases about these things. The fight for inclusion and acceptance — not tolerance — has gone on for decades.

Now the next chapter is being written at USF.

Some interesting characters have so far emerged with some interesting comments. Others will surely follow.

But be sure you rehearse your lines before you decide to weigh in on the gay fraternity laying a foundation at USF. Or at least think about them.

Kevin Graham is a former Oracle Editor in Chief.