On Friday, March 19, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance sponsored a rally outside of Squires Student Center in support of Virginia Tech’s current anti-discrimination policies.
The Principles of Community is a document that encompasses the university’s policies on equality. It includes protections based on sexual orientation, a safeguard that should not be offered according to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli’s March 4 letter to public universities requested that administrators retract policies that ban discrimination based on sexual preference.
Gov. Bob McDonnell later sent an executive directive discouraging all forms of employment discrimination.
Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski confirmed that the university has no plans to change the Principles of Community.
LGBTA President Aimee Kanode said the group decided to take a positive stand behind the university instead of demonstrating against Cuccinelli.
“When Cuccinelli’s letter came out there was a need for a response,” Kanode said. “What kind of response we wanted to offer was up to us. We could choose to have protests or a demonstration where we just say how backwards the Attorney General’s letter was, or about how that degrades the LGBT community, or we could uplift Virginia Tech’s current Principles of Community from a positive light. We chose to go with the more positive option.”
Kanode said the Principles of Community are vital to the LGBTA.
“It just means we’re all students,” Kanode said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or who you happen to make out with at parties. We’re all going to be Hokies at the end of the day.”
Jean Elliot, co-chair of the LGBT Caucus of Virginia Tech, also advocated for the document in its current form.
“We, right here, all of us, are the statements behind that document,” Elliot said at the rally. “We all deserve equal protection, and we should be able to live our lives free from fear.”
Elliot also addressed the future by saying that “the fight for equity with regards to human rights and sexuality shall achieve great things in this 21st century.”
Phillip Murillas, a senior communication major at Tech, was able to gain support for the cause through the social networking site Facebook.
He described the movement as “a full week of just motivating people and trying to get a statewide effort going on.”
Murillas also spoke out against altering the Principles of Community.
“It would be impossible to actually change it at this point,” Murillas said. “It negates too much progress. It would also stop the example we have going on for other state universities, for universities at other states, for institutions across the country.”
Kanode reiterated that the university has no plans to change the document.
“We are keeping it in the Principles of Community — (President Charles Steger) stood fast behind it, and the provost stood fast behind it,” Kanode said.
Kanode pointed out that the issue was not even on the agenda for Sunday and Monday’s Board of Visitors meetings.
LGBTA Pride week is scheduled for March 29 to April 2.