Donors, students, faculty and alumni walked past messages from Spiders Against Sexual Assault (SASA) written in chalk as they arrived to the Queally Center dedication ceremony Friday.
SASA wrote messages such as “we believe you” and “we support oUR survivors" to once more draw attention to sexual assault at Richmond. SASA used the same tactic during family weekend.
“We believe alumni, particularly those on the Board of Trustees and/or with financial resources, have the potential to contribute to campus change in a powerful way," Rennie Harrison, a junior and leader of SASA, said. "SASA will continue to hold the administration accountable to its promises and push for more progress.”
Some SASA members were also motivated to demonstrate because of the $10 million benefactor the admissions building was named after, said Luriel Balaurea, a junior and SASA member. But Harrison said the chalk messages had nothing to do with Paul Queally, an alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees.
In 2014, Queally was quoted making sexist and homophobic remarks in New York Magazine. Among them were statements ridiculing Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank, an openly gay congressman. Not long after, a public Facebook post surfaced of a picture Queally had posted with a homophobic slur in its caption. He has since apologized for his remarks, but some still feel discomfort seeing his name displayed on campus.
Kylie Britt, co-president of the LGBTQ organization Students Creating Opportunity, Pride and Equality (SCOPE), worried that displaying Queally's name would give a bad impression to prospective LGBTQ students.
“All of the student activism to make queer students feel welcomed and valued on campus is diminished and overshadowed by a student center that boasts the name of a man who has been vocally disparaging to people with LGBTQ identities," Britt said.
Despite the impression SASA was hoping to make at the dedication, some thought their efforts went unnoticed.
“No one seemed to really pay attention to it,” said Griffin Meyers, a freshman present at the event. “Everyone went about the event like normal.”
Maddy Dunbar, co-president of WILL*, a WGSS-affiliated student organization, still applauded SASA’s efforts.
“While I believe that the Queally center is a great resource for our campus, I am disappointed that it bares the name of a man who has said many sexist, transphobic and homophobic things," Dunbar said. "As a student leader, I am glad to see a group like SASA using the dedication to make a statement about issues on our campus.”
Contact reporter Julia Raimondi at firstname.lastname@example.org