Two weeks ago Matthew Shepard was fighting for his life in a hospital room. On Oct. 8, the 22-year-old gay student from the University of Wyoming was brutally beaten and left to die while tied to a fence near Laramie, Wyo. Just days later, students at Colorado State University celebrated their Homecoming weekend by decorating their float with a beaten scarecrow wearing a sign saying “I am gay.” According to Patrick Carroll (COL ’99), president of GU Pride, the Colorado incident showed that while [many people are disgusted with what happened to Matthew Shepard](, the whole world is not. On Wednesday evening, about 40 members of the Georgetown community convened to show their disgust of these recent displays of hatred. Students and faculty gathered for a candlelight vigil in Dahlgren Quadrangle to mourn Shepard’s death and to show support for hate-crimes legislation. Participants observed a moment of silence and offered words of support for the Georgetown gay community. The atmosphere was respectful as students and faculty shared their reactions and own experiences. Carroll called for students to take action against hate-crimes. “It is time to confront the homophobia that you see around you and within you,” he said. He added that action must also be taken on the national level to prevent crimes against gays. “America sends out a message that being gay is not OK,” he said. Carroll noted the irony that Shepard was killed in a state that proclaims itself to be “the Equality State.” Sexual Assault and Women’s Health Services Coordinator Carolyn Hurwitz, who helped to organize the vigil, said, “It’s important to keep working towards passing hate crime legislation. We don’t have to wait until there’s an incident here.” Kevin Hicar (CAS ’95), assistant director for the Escape program and the Safe Zones program, said Campus Ministries was “very frustrated with what has gone on.” Hicar called for action at Georgetown and in the community and said that the Shepard incident was more than just an assault to gay people, but an assault on the entire human race. “This could have been one of us,” he said, “and I’m really still pissed off.” This feeling was echoed by Frank Salamone (FLL ’01) who, speaking impromptu, said, “Wow, I’m one of the lucky ones. If this is what lucky is, we have a long way to go.” The death of Matthew Shepard comes at the same time as the kickoff of the [Georgetown University Safe Zones program]( According to Ellen Nelson, director of Special Programs for the Main Campus, the purpose of the program is to provide allies for students at Georgetown who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. By volunteering to be a part of the Safe Zone community, students and faculty make a commitment to acknowledging diversity on campus. Safe Zone stickers may be posted to show their support for openness on campus. Orlando Gonzalez (COL ’98), co-chair of Leadership and Education about Diversity, said, “The [Shepard] incident brings to life why the [Safe Zone] program is necessary.

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