This past week, a second referendum proposing an LGBT senate seat was voted down, this time by a larger margin than the first vote three weeks prior.
Opposition to the referendum was particularly vicious this time around, partly mobilized through the social media app Yik Yak. The app has exposed a troublingly homophobic strain of opinion on campus.
The app is, of course, not responsible for homophobia on campus, but it has brought those sentiments to the forefront, clearly demonstrating to the university the deep-seeded hate a large number of students have against persons identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Just four years ago, SMU was listed on the Princeton Review as one of the schools least accepting of LGBT lifestyle. In the past few years it has dropped off that list, initially seen as a sign of progress.
But Yik Yak has helped show the more optimistic among us just how much work still needs to be done. So long as students feel it is okay to throw around slurs against the LGBT community and attack those who support the community, this campus cannot call itself tolerant.
That this homophobic community was able to be mobilized against an LGBT senate seat referendum in significant enough numbers to stop the vote from passing — twice — shows just how difficult it will be to make real progress.
Frankly, the hateful, anonymous comments on Yik Yak and the rampant nature of the app’s influence are precisely why an LGBT seat should be created. The community needs the additional support a seat on the Senate would allow them. That the very people creating the need for an LGBT senate seat were the same ones able to stop the creation of one is disappointing, but democratic processes allow no recourse to correct this irony.
It may be tempting then to advocate for a non-democratic solution — the imposition of the LGBT seat without the consent of the university as a whole. Public opinion on civil rights issues often lag behind. After all, the voters in Kansas would never have passed school integration if put up to a vote, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education had to impose that reality upon them.
However, to do that in the case of the LGBT senate seat would allow the homophobic parts of the community to hide. If they get brought to the surface every time this referendum is voted on in future years, it pushes them into the light, providing a clear example of why the administration, and the students, have to take action.
Every time the referendum doesn’t pass, it is another reminder of why it needs to pass. Each time slurs are made public, the tolerant voices in the community are further motivated to turn out and get the vote passed. Eventually it will pass, and the value of a democratic victory will far surpass the value of a premature imposition of the LGBT senate seat by executive decree.
The question is whether or not the campus can maintain some semblance of community in the time between now, when intolerance is astoundingly blatant, and when LGBT representation is achieved and implemented.
We at The Daily Campus, for the sake of the LGBT community on campus and the overall social relevance of and professional respect for upcoming SMU graduates when they leave this bubble, can only hope this happens sooner rather than later. If that gets us labeled “The Campus Rag” by the Yik Yak crowd, so be it.