Rainbow Flag Sticker Called 'Divisive' At Australian University
In what appears to be an act of prejudice, someone has been removing rainbow flag stickers placed around The University of Notre Dame Australia.
Notre Dame Student Association (NDSA) President Dylan Gojak first placed the stickers in the NDSA office, as well as on boardroom windows of Notre Dame's campus.
After the stickers were first ripped down toward the end of February this year, the NDSA replaced them, only to see them ripped off once again, with no knowledge of who had such a problem with LGBT representation around campus.
“We took it upon ourselves to do stuff for our LGBTIQ students, because there was nothing," Gojak told BuzzFeed News. "One of the first steps was putting up these ally stickers."
According to Buzzfeed News, officials at The University of Notre Dame are now saying people have called for a protest of the rainbow flag stickers, claiming their presence is unnecessarily "divisive."
Gojak was allegedly asked to remove the stickers following complaints originally, but he fought back and reached an agreement that allowed the rainbow flag stickers to stay in place.
In turn, Gojak had to explain why they were up in a post on the NDSA's Facebook page.
After the rainbow flag stickers were ripped down yet again, Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond emailed Gojak about the issue. While the university isn't exactly on board with the stickers and their message, she said the way they were removed is frowned upon.
Hammond said in her email,
While I believe the symbol is divisive, and the University does not support all that has come to be associated with the Rainbow flag, the University does not condone the sticker being deliberately taken down in the way that it was. This only aggravates the situation and has the potential to cause additional distress.
To that end, while the University does not endorse the Rainbow flag, and does not approve it being displayed on any other parts of the University campus, the University is not seeking for it to be removed from the two windows of the Student Association Office at this time.
As a gay man, Gojak felt inclined to shed light on LGBT issues at the university and to help make it feel more welcoming for LGBT students.
"You have queer students that are struggling, and there's nothing, there's no public statement, there's no sign that you're welcome here," he said.
The stickers being torn down only confirmed Gojak's beliefs that the university as a whole has little support for him and all other LGBT students.
He added, "To have the stickers now repeatedly torn down and the university not wanting to come out publicly condemning these actions and saying it stands by its gay students, it upsets me."
During Gojak's further discussions with Hammond, she still expressed "legitimate concerns" as to what may come from the presence of these rainbow flag stickers at a Catholic university.
Hammond said, "The concerns here are that the display of the politically charged stickers on the property of the University could be viewed as an endorsement by the University of matters which are inconsistent with Catholic teachings, and that those who are trying to live their lives consistent with those teachings may feel threatened and/or confused by this."
"I also recognise, with deep regret, that it is possible that we have people within our Notre Dame community who hold homophobic views, such views being inconsistent with our Catholic teachings."
Same-sex marriage has been a long-standing issue up for debate in Australia, so it should come as no surprise that there are people who think ill of those in the LGBT community.
That being said, it's up to the University of Notre Dame to make sure its students are all treated with the utmost respect and care while enrolled.
While they may not want to pick a side, more action needs to be taken to assure everyone — no matter their sexuality — is treated equally.
Dylan Gojak, don't stop until you achieve your goal.