Alleged anti-gay incident at Emory frat party attracts national spotlight
By Christian Boone
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Student leaders met into the night Tuesday to prepare a response. Emory University's administration also weighed in, sending a campus-wide e-mail promising an investigation into the incident, first reported by the campus newspaper and picked up by countless blogs, including the popular Gawker website.
At issue: a scuffle early Saturday morning at a frat party involving a gay student and an Emory alum. No one was injured and no police report was filed.
A year ago, the story would've likely remained within the Emory bubble. But recent high-profile incidents targeting gay youth, including the Sept. 22 suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, has started a national conversation on bullying. Now, the Emory tussle has become a part of that dialogue, merited or not.
As reported by the Emory Wheel, an openly gay student attending a Sigma Nu party was forcibly removed from the house after intimating that his alleged attacker was also homosexual.
Recent Emory graduate Adam Smith admitted being riled by the inference that he was gay and acknowledged dragging the student -- dressed in a lime green jacket, red pants and a wizard hat -- out by his neck, throwing him onto the front lawn of the off-campus residence.
The gay student, whose identity has not been revealed, told the student newspaper several of the partygoers showered him with homophobic slurs as he was being ejected -- a charge that has not been corroborated. One witness told the Wheel that, while many revelers cheered Smith on, most did not know what prompted the scuffle. Smith and his accuser did not respond to interview requests forwarded by the Emory newspaper on behalf of the AJC.
Though questions linger about the fight, the reaction to it has been swift and certain.
"This gives us an opportunity to have discussions that need to take place," said Beth Brandt, president of Emory's Student Government Association. Brandt said she was surprised this particular incident, in which no one was injured, received so much attention but, "in the context of what's been going on nationally, I understand."
In a statement sent to students and the media, Emory's senior vice president for campus life John L. Ford said the university is "supporting the student involved in the incident" and "has no tolerance for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
Brandt said a coalition of student leaders, including representatives of Greek and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) groups, will address the controversy in a joint letter to be published in Friday's edition of the Wheel.
"This is a very inclusive community, but Emory's not perfect and not as inclusive as it could be," Brandt said. "The incident itself is very sad, but we hope to use it as a catalyst for change."
Some students expressed concerned about a rush to judgment.
"No one really knows what happened," said Savan Shah, president of Emory's College Republicans, though he adds Smith appears to have overreacted. "Adam handled it wrong, and if people were cheering, they shouldn't have been, but we don't know that they were cheering because it happened to a gay student."
Gay Emory Student Dragged From Frat Party
By Asher Smith
An incident occurring at around midnight Saturday morning - during which a gay Emory student was forcibly ejected from a party at an off-campus home inhabited by members of the Sigma Nu fraternity - has raised questions concerning the extent to which Greek life at Emory is welcoming toward the University’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community.