Culprit caught in aftermath
By Jamal Al-Bayaa, Staff Writer
In March of this year, the DSU Pride Room was vandalized in such a way that left its members feeling unsafe and uncomfortable in their own safe space. Now that a full investigation has taken place, those details have been made available to the public.
The incident allegedly targeted the Douglas LGBTQ+ community, not just the physical property of one location. All of the Pride Room’s pride posters and flags were removed—which could have been considered an impersonal attack, if it weren’t for the note that came with it.
“God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” read the note.
Pride Liaison and DSU representative of the time Marni McMillan described it as “unoriginal,” but still deeply upsetting to her and her members.
Georgia Couver was one of those members. Although she’s no longer a Douglas student, she had been a Pride member for four years in March, and nothing like this had ever happened before.
“It took a few months for things to get comfortable again,” says Couver.
The incident was immediately taken to Nancy Constable, Director of Safety, Security, and Risk Management at Douglas College, and the chair of its Threat Assessment team. Within a few days, the college had a strong idea of who was responsible for the disruption of property. Although there was no undeniable proof that it was this person, due to a lack of surveillance in the Pride Room, the camera footage in the DSU was enough to make security fairly certain of what had happened.
The person who took these actions had only a peripheral relationship with the college, having worked there for a period of a few months before this happened. The person’s work involved being in and out of the DSU building, and it’s likely that they had passed the Pride Room several times before this took place. Once the offender’s identity was matched with camera footage, the working relationship between the person and the college was immediately terminated.
Following the termination, patrols increased for a while, the DSU linked their cameras to the College’s camera surveillance system to increase safety, a padlock was installed on the door of the Pride Room, and a course of action was decided on.
At the request of McMillan, the college chose to forgo punitive punishment in favour of the restorative justice method: a learning experience, because this person likely will run into people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum again in their lifetime.
As McMillan saw it, fining or attempting to jail this person in any way may pay off in the short term with feelings of justice, but would ultimately solidify the hatred that caused this person’s actions in the first place and only create more incidents of this kind.
In her email to Constable, McMillan stated: “I personally feel as though attempting to humanize the effects of hate crimes experienced by those members of the LGBTQ+ community will have the most profound outcome. I recognize that this approach is dependent on the wrongdoers’ participation; however, I firmly believe that this person/persons needs to be made aware that their actions, although they were not physically violent, made the people who utilize our safe space feel as though their security is now in jeopardy. Our Pride Collective members have had to resort to locking the door behind them when they are in the pride room, which entirely defeats the purpose of having a space of this nature of campus.”
The offender did not respond to requests, and so no further action with this individual was taken. However, Douglas College remains firm in its commitment to work towards the safety of all students, and will be improving the campus in several ways in alignment with that goal, including the introduction of genderless bathrooms onto both campuses in the future.