The “Hate Response Team” at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse has their hands full after a student filed a serious complaint against a mural in a campus dorm. What does this “very upsetting” mural depict? A painting of Neville Longbottom, a character from the Harry Potter films.
The mural, located in the university’s Laux Residence Hall, shows Longbottom’s character transformation from a nerdy young boy to a handsome grown man. The mural’s caption jokes “Before Laux” and “After Laux,” insinuating that students who reside in the hall come out better looking than when they entered.
The student, whose name was redacted, claimed to be incredibly offended by the mural’s representation of “our ideal society and everything I am trying to fight against.”
In the complaint obtained by Heat Street, the student also stated that the mural “represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power. ECT [sic] ect. I am angry that I know the people who put this mural up, and I am anger [sic] because I know the people who let this mural be put up. Like I said earlier, maybe I am being a little sensitive, but it is how I feel.”
The student finished by critiquing today’s society as a whole. “This represents, to me, our society, and I do not want it up on this wall. Why do we need a BEFORE and AFTER?”
Despite the hurt feelings it may have caused, the mural still remains on the dorm wall.
Contrary to many other college campus, the “Hate Response Team” at UW-LaCrosse respects the student’s right to free speech.
“It is important to note that not every act which may be offensive to an individual or group will be considered to be discriminatory conduct and a violation of system or institutional policy,” the group states on their website. “Whether a specific incident constitutes harassment proscribed by university policy will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Due consideration will be given to the protection of individual First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and academic freedom.”
Hate Response Team member Amanda Goodenough spoke to Heat Street about the purpose of the university group. “What our team is really trying to do is promote a culture of empowerment, not victimhood. People can report whatever we want and we don’t squelch that. … It’s about people finding their voice, speaking out. They’re college students; they’re learning who they are and what they are in the world, and they may not always get it right, but they’re finding their voice.”