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The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

The Student News Site of Christopher Newport University

The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

LGBTQ+ signage stolen from outside of faculty offices

This month, several Christopher Newport University faculty members reported LGBTQ+ signage stolen from the exterior of their faculty offices. The incident did not seem to be isolated to one particular academic building, as faculty from several departments reported experiencing similar incidents. 


 “A caring campus is safe, respectful and inclusive,” CNU President William Kelly wrote when addressing the issue in a Sept. 25 “CNUpdate” email to the campus community.


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“As Captains, we are committed to a campus culture that embraces the full spectrum of human attributes, perspectives, and disciplines, and offers every member of the University the opportunity to become their best self,” said Kelly, who announced that the CNU police department is actively investigating the case. 


In addition, Faculty Senate President Dr. Brian Puaca, in a Sept. 19 email to CNU faculty, encouraged his fellow colleagues to report incidents of stolen signage to CNUPD through their Silent Witness program, which allows members of the CNU community to anonymously report crimes.


Posters, flyers and stickers containing the pride flag and other LGBTQ+ symbols that were hung up on the outside of the offices were specifically targeted. Safe Zone placards, which faculty receive when they complete LGBTQ+ awareness and ally training, were also stolen.


“Those are all emblems that are visual cues, nonverbal cues to students… that I am someone that they can feel comfortable being themselves [with], should they choose to discuss their identity or have questions about their identity,” said CNU professor Dr. Danielle Stern. 


Stern specializes in feminist and queer studies and co-chairs CNU’s LGBTQ+ and Allies Faculty/Staff Affinity Group. Although LGBTQ+ materials were not stolen from her office door, Stern said that at least a dozen faculty members reported stolen materials either on the CNU faculty facebook group or by contacting her directly.


“Though I hate to use this: if you look at the definition on Merriam-Webster, you can consider this a hate crime. There was a defacement of property – directly attacking a minority community,” said Assistant Director, Center for Community Engagement Jessie Deal, who also serves as one of the co-chairs of the LGBTQ+ and Allies Faculty/Staff Affinity Group. 

“These are people’s identities that we’re talking about that have been vandalized and put under threat,” said Deal.


In addition, she emphasized the importance of faculty and staff not being deterred by an “intimidation tactic.”Following the incident, she offered her assistance to the affected faculty members by handing out pride flags and Affinity group stickers to replace the stolen ones.


 “You know, putting pride right back up again, saying, ‘I’m not going to silence who I am just because someone doesn’t like it,’” she said.


Although grateful for CNU PD’s investigation and the administration’s response, Stern believes that such an incident should be the launching point for a larger conversation about the current culture of inclusivity within the CNU community. 


“If there are individuals who are found to have committed these acts, whether they’re charged or not, I would hate for them to be scapegoats,” she said. 


“We should continue to address larger inclusivity and make sure that those of us in positions of power and privilege on this campus continue to let each other know, especially our students, that we are an inclusive affirming campus,” Stern added.


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Evelyn Davidson, Editor in Chief
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