NIU task force to combat gay harassment

By Donald Roth Jr.

An NIU task force was organized to help fight harassment and violence against gay, lesbian, and bisexual NIU students.

The task force was assembled in response to recent requests by NIU’s Gay and Lesbian Student Union and NIU’s Gay and Lesbian Association.

“There has been a crisis in regard to harassment and violence against gay, lesbian, and bisexual students at NIU,” said Cory Parham, GLU co-president.

Parham said initially that the GLU had taken on responsibility that NIU should share.

“The GLU felt that it was appropriate and fitting that gay, lesbian and bisexual students get the same support afforded to minorities on campus such as Afro-Americans,” Parham said.

The task force, formed Jan. 3 and chaired by NIU Ombudsman Tim Griffin, includes a diverse assortment of the NIU community.

Parham said that members from the NIU police, housing, operating staff, GLU, GLA, legal staff, Student Association, graduate students, housing, libraries and Student Affairs will all be included on the task force.

“The task force is charged with evaluating the frequency, form, and circumstances under which such discrimination and harassment takes place,” Griffin said. “And what regulations, programs, and processes are currently in place for addressing such discrimination and harassment.”

The last function of the task force will be to “recommend any additional procedures, training, and/or educational intervention which is needed to address and eliminate any such discrimination and/or harassment,” Griffin said.

Parham said the initial meeting of the task force went smoothly and there were no disruptions of any kind, but it’s too early to foresee the future of the group.

“It’s too soon to tell if it will be successful, all the cards are not on the table,” Parham said. “But there’s lots of potential.”

Griffin said while the task force is still in its infancy stage, he’s positive everyone is contributing in a sincere effort.

“I’m convinced the (NIU) president has a sincere interest in preventing and addressing any and all incidents of harassment against NIU gay, lesbian and bisexual students.”

There are currently some procedures already in place at NIU that aggressively discourage and punish harassment and violence against these people in NIU’s community, Griffin said.

“NIU has placed on its letterhead and in the judicial code statements prohibiting discrimination and harassment against gays, lesbians and bisexual students on the basis of sexual preference for over one year,” Griffin said.

Griffin said this is done even though there is no county, state, or federal policy currently in place requiring NIU to do so.

Since there has been no time frame established compelling the task force to submit recommendations to the president, Griffin said he finds it more important to “Do it right, than to do it fast.”