Vandalism targeting LGBTQ+ students prompts action

Delta’s Pride Center is so impacted students resort to sitting outside the first-floor Shima location. PHOTO BY AMIRAH AMENHOTEP

A late October vandalism incident directed at the LGBT student population has put the marginalized group on edge and prompted a campus wide response.

A poster explaining the purpose of the all-gender bathrooms in the Forum Building was defaced around Oct. 23. In marker, words of hate were written against individuals who are transgender, accompanied by a swastika.

“Whether the symbol was a joke or not, it is kind of dangerous just because it’s a symbol that has been historically used as a sign of desire to commit against various marginalized communities,” said Delta student Robert Felton. “Using it on the poster in the bathroom is still dangerous because it potentially insight people to commit violence since its being used in the context similar to how it was in the past for those reasons.”

A crime alert was sent out by campus police on Oct. 25 detailing the vandalism, in part, as “an ‘X’ crossing out” a part of the “poster referencing campus community members who identify as transgender or non-binary,” an “expletive, followed by the letters ‘LGBT,’” and a swastika.

The same day President/Superintendent Dr. Omid Pourzanjani released a statement condemning the actions.

“… I want to be clear that we cannot and will not tolerate hate crimes of any kind in our District. I want to repeat this, we exercise ZERO tolerance for these activities on our campus!” he wrote, also urging the campus community to “stand together to fight this type of behavior!”

The vandalism is the first of such reported in 3 years, according to Delta College Clery Report numbers.

“If a person can’t accept that, there is going to be all gender bathrooms which is supposed to make it equal for everyone they shouldn’t even waste their time going into the restroom vandalizing something means something dearly to the LGBT community,” said Delta student Yasmeen Alcala.

There are three restrooms designated as all-gender on campus, two in the Forum Building and one on the first floor of the Shima Building. In February and early March, police investigated potential arson fires in the Shima bathroom.

“It makes me feel extremely unsafe to go back into that bathroom cause what if they are in there? I just want to go to the bathroom,” said Delta Student Basile Jake.

The person who committed the crime may think it’s funny, but the act is a serious one.

“First of all, of course, its disrespectful but it’s being mean towards a group of people you don’t even know about its just arrogant and it’s annoying and ignorant of how many times they have to do these things. And they have to they just still do it, but we are still peacefully trying to get ourselves through this time so it’s difficult to not just get through to them but to people who are like this,” said Delta student Gilbert Ruiz.

The incident also comes the same week Pourzanjani met with Pride Center members as the group seeks out space larger than office-sized location it now occupies in the Shima Building. Students who utilize the center also spoke during public comment at a Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 22.

“I would like Delta to pay more attention to their LGBT community because it feels like no attention is being really being paid to us even with our room we are still trying to fight for a bigger room because so many of us come into this room. I just think delta should try and pay more attention to its students, especially their LGBT students who are trying their best,” said Ruiz.

The vandalism has set the community in action. On Nov. 22, the Offices of the Vice President of Student Services and Student Equity & Diversity will host “A Campus Conversation” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in DeRicco 274-275 in response to the incident.

“I would like them to be more proactive obviously we can’t regulate everybody, there is going to be hate speech that comes up. Either verbally or graffiti on walls that targets vulnerable populations. But whenever that does happen, I just hope Delta really realizes we are all apart of Delta, we are a community within Delta, and that they rally around LGBTQ students in particular,” said said Pride Center Advisor Ricky Gutierrez Maldonado. “Obviously, there is LGBT faculty and staff that may be impacted by this. I’m a gay man and I work here, so I want to make sure I’m safe and I’m working in an environment where I’m not fearful of maybe someone is going to tag this thing up or come visit us in the Pride center. So there is really issues around safety and I think Delta can really do a great job in terms of really publicly countering that message with a message of solidarity of support and community.”