#NoHateAtMSU

Posted on Yeti An anonymous student posted this photo of Marco Torres on Yeti. Torres responded with a message of zero tolerance for hate and bigotry on Facebook that has received almost 900 shares and 300 likes.

Posted on Yeti
An anonymous student posted this photo of Marco Torres on Yeti. Torres responded with a message of zero tolerance for hate and bigotry on Facebook that has received almost 900 shares and 300 likes.

A picture posted of a Midwestern student on social media last week has drawn attention to the subject of discrimination on campus. The picture, originally posted on Yeti, features senior psychology major Marco Torres walking into the CSC. Text at the top of the picture reads, “See a Fag, Post a Fag #MarcoTorres.”

Torres responded to the post on Facebook alongside a screenshot of the original: “The photo devastated me. Not only was I labeled a fag, but I was specifically mentioned by name. This type of behavior and harassment has no place at Midwestern State University. What’s even more upsetting is the fact that 92 fellow students liked the photo.”

His reply didn’t stop there; he challenged the campus community not to tolerate such harassment.

“No student should feel unwelcome at MSU regardless of sex, gender, race, etc.,” he said. “As a leader on my campus, I will take any and every step to ensure this does not continue to happen. Hate and bigotry have no place at Midwestern State University. I ask that you share this photo to raise awareness to the situations that minority group college students face. #NoHateAtMSU.”

His post got 280 likes, 876 shares and 108 comments, garnering support from fellow students using the hashtag #NoHateAtMSU.

Torres said, “I’ve gotten really good responses from people all over the country, whether it’s been messages on Facebook or directly commenting. [N]ow I want to use this as a positive thing.”

Torres said he faced this type of behavior once before while campaigning for SGA president.

“So this next time I was attacked, I knew something had to be done, and I had to do something because usually I would just brush it off,” he said.

The LGBT members of the community are also reaching out with Pride, an organization that has been around for years.

Christopher D’Amico, co-advisor for Pride, talked about its objectives.

“We tell people it’s not solely a gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender organization,” he said. “It’s about inclusiveness for all people, all sexuality, all gender.”

Houston Pokorny, theater senior and member of Pride, said, “I joined it to educate people. I really want to see change in how people view other people. [I want to see them] accept other people’s differences and to show that just because we are different doesn’t mean we are not all the same.”

Members of Pride are not the only ones who know the importance of educating people when it comes to this topic. Wynter Taylor, psychology junior, said, “On a wider scale, it’s important to educate people on the subject so they are less likely to make offensive comments, but on an individual level, the only thing you can control is how you carry yourself.”

Pride members said they plan to host two workshops in the beginning of next year to train students in subjects ranging from language and cultural education, local and national resources, coming out processes and identity development models, and sensitivity education that interrupts bias and makes appropriate referrals or responses as needed.

“We welcome allies at the safe zone training and had plenty of allies attend,” D’Amico said.

Allies are those who are straight but support LGBT friends, coworkers, classmates, neighbors, family members and others in variety of ways.

Members of the organization handed out condoms at the Homecoming parade and said they will have free anonymous HIV testing on World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

With social media being a key subject in all of this, Pokorny said, “I don’t personally feel safe. Anyone can just post a picture of you saying, ‘You’re a fag.’ That, to me, screams hate and prejudice. They might just be frat boys, but prejudice comes out in many forms. It shows ignorance–not stupidity but ignorance and not understanding of other people.”

Added Nov. 19: Julie Gaynor, public information officer, released the university’s statement on the recent bullying incidents.

Statement released by the university regarding recent bullying incidents. Screenshot taken from my.mwsu.edu

Statement released by the university regarding recent bullying incidents. Screenshot taken from my.mwsu.edu