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University of Virginia students react to anti-gay violence on campus

Monday, November 19, 2012
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Members of the University of Virginia’s Queer Student Union are outraged over what police investigators are calling a recent attack on a student a suspected “gay bashing.”

The attack occurred last Thursday near Brooks Hall, home to U.Va.’s Anthropology Department.

The University of Virginia Police Department released a statement to the University community that read, in part:

“The University of Virginia Police Department is investigating an assault that occurred near Brooks Hall on Nov. 15, at approximately 10:15 p.m. This crime appears to have been motivated by bias based on slurs spoken by the suspect to the victim regarding the victim’s sexual orientation just moments before the assault.

The suspect, who was walking with a group of people, struck the victim in the face and then continued on foot towards the Corner. The victim was treated for injuries at Elson Student Health.”

“I’m just outraged that this could still happen, that there are people out there that think it’s OK to just assault someone because of their sexual identity,” Wo Chan, a member of the U.Va. Queer Student Union told WVIR-TV.

The Queer Student Union said it is done tolerating hateful attacks on the school’s campus, and that education is key to keeping these events from happening in the future.

“I found out about the hate crime on Friday night, about a day after it had happened and an e-mail still hadn’t gone out to the student body, which was a problem, of course, because the person who had attacked the student was still out there,” said Katie Mayfield, a member of the Queer Student Union said.

“We’re actually planning self-defense training at an upcoming workshop for the Queer Student Union,” she said.

A spokesperson for the university’s police department declined to comment regarding QSU and other student leaders complaint about the delay by U.Va. Police Chief Michael Gibson by not sending an alert to students until Saturday morning.

According to the QSU and university officials, Thursday’s assault is not the first on the sprawling campus located in downtown Charlottesville. In 2009, a student was attacked on Stadium Drive near the football stadium by five young men who were yelling homosexual slurs.

“It’s clear that this is not the last event of its kind that’s going to happen, and so hopefully we’ll be able to equip people better to handle it in the future,” said Mayfield.

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