Members of Oregon State University’s LGBTQ student group, the Pride Center, called for the Veteran Student Association (VSA) to be prohibited from meeting in a lounge on campus in a since-deleted Facebook post.
The Mar. 15 post characterized the presence of the VSA in the student lounge as threatening to “the well-being of many vulnerable students,” saying the Pride Center was concerned about “a particular type of American patriotism that would be promoted by centralizing the Veteran Student Association in the SEC.”
The Pride Center post expresses that the group’s affiliates would be vulnerable to the presence of the VSA in the Student Experience Center Involvement Lounge: “The communities that our organizations serve are vulnerable to the ideological and practical consequences that this decision would bring about.” (RELATED: Dan Crenshaw Puts Trump’s Veterans Day Whiff On Arlington In Perspective)
In their post, Pride Center members also cite the Trump administration’s transgender soldier ban as a reason for their taking issue with the VSA. The post reads:
In recent years, the transgender community has been explicitly targeted by the Trump administration’s decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. The newest policy states that no person. . . . This push to curb the rights of transgender people to participate as fully as they desire in US society has caused much distress throughout the LGBTQ community; we are disheartened to think that our community, which has historically fought to be recognized fully as human beings, [is] being forced to continue this fight.
The lounge is supposed to be “a hub within the Student Experience Center for students to connect with resources, campus opportunities and student organizations,” according to the Oregon State University website.
Campus Reform spoke to the College Republican President at Oregon State University about the Pride Center’s post:
The College Republicans President at OSU, Peter Halajian, told Campus Reform that he cannot see how this is not an attack on veterans, and argued that nobody cares where the VSA office is located. He called the letter “disgusting,” “shameful,” and “hypocritical.”
“It’s simply the reasoning given that is a disgusting attack. Furthermore, no one is forcing the Pride Center to be in favor of any war; past, present, or future! The fact that the mere sight of veterans services on campus is disturbing to them is just plain sad,” Halajian said. “The Pride Center can’t on the one hand claim to support veterans well-being (or support LGBT+ veterans at all for that matter) and then be against a conveniently located center for them to get the services and support that they need.”
After six days, the Pride Center finally decided to remove its original post and put up a new post attempting to disassociate the message of the first post from the Pride Center itself, instead pinning it on the opinions of “individual students” associated with the organization. (RELATED: Number Of Homeless Veterans Drops Under Trump, Continuing Trend From Obama Administration)
The new statement reads:
You may notice that we have removed an open letter posted to this page on March 15, 2019, about the relocation of OSU’s Military and Veteran Resources office. We have done so because the open letter was written by and represents the views of individual students, not the Pride Center or SOL: LGBTQ+ Multicultural Support Network as organizations, the department of Diversity & Cultural Engagement, or Oregon State University. While Pride Center and SOL student staff have the right to make statements as individuals on issues that are important to them, the posting of this open letter violated our communication policy.
We recognize the statement has been a source of pain for many individuals. At times such as these, we need to consider all members of our community and their diverse experiences in order to build the brave space we strive for, where community members engage in challenging, yet respectful conversations through conscious questioning and active listening.
We welcome and support our veterans. And we share with you that the Pride Center assistant director is working with the Military and Veteran Resources advisor to create healing spaces for those who are hurting, as well as dialogue spaces for the larger campus to move toward a stronger sense of community and mutual understanding. We will be sharing concrete next steps soon.
The Oregon State University Pride Center did not respond for comment in time for publication.