QPOC gets offensive letter

Temple Police is investigating the letter, which contained homophobic and racial slurs.

Carmella Hall, the president of QPOC, stands outside the organization's Student Village office on Monday. A letter containing racial and homophobic slurs was delivered to the organization’s office. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Police has yet to identify a suspect in its investigation of a letter containing racial and homophobic slurs that was delivered to the student organization Queer People of Color’s office on Feb. 12.

Charlie Leone, the executive director of Campus Safety Services, said Temple Police is still investigating and conducting interviews with members of QPOC.

Leone added that it was difficult to see anything significant from security footage inside the Student Center, where QPOC’s office is located, because the cameras are not pointed toward the office’s door. The letter could have been dropped off anytime between Feb. 9 and 12, he said.

Carmella Hall, the club’s president and a junior gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, found the hand-written letter after it was allegedly slipped under QPOC’s door. She said she believes the anonymous letter was intended for a member of the organization’s executive board, but it was not addressed to anyone in particular.

This is the first time the club has received hate mail, Hall said.

“I’m not scared,” Hall told The Temple News. “I’m offended…but a note can’t stop me.”

Hall added that QPOC has received support from Student Activities and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership since the letter was found.

Nu’Rodney Prad, the faculty adviser for QPOC and the director of student engagement for IDEAL, said he’s working to make sure members of QPOC know that IDEAL is there to support them.

“I think this type of language that targets a person’s identity is unacceptable,” Prad said.

“I want to tell people, ‘Don’t be afraid,’” Hall said. “‘People support you. There are people behind you.’”

Hall added that she feels Temple is generally a safe space for LGBTQ people.

“Temple was always a welcoming place, but there are still people here who think like that,” said Charlie Catacalos, QPOC’s treasurer and a sophomore anthropology major. “It was a wake-up call, like there’s no place safe.”

Catacalos added that members of QPOC expressed they were “taken aback” by the letter at the club’s meeting on Feb. 14.

Catacalos said QPOC is working to organize a meeting to address homophobia in the Black community.

Other student organizations like the Black Student Union expressed their support for QPOC.

“It’s important for BSU to support any student [organization] that falls in the realm of people of color or Black people,” BSU President Kourtney Thompson said. “We’re all under the same umbrella.”

A statement from a university spokesperson said the university is “offering support” to QPOC and that the letter goes against Temple’s values.

It also said any students connected to the hate mail could be punished under the Student Conduct Code.

Thompson said she was disgusted by the letter.

“We need to start to take a realistic look…and unpack what diversity means to Temple and what they’re doing to uphold it,” she said. “We need to make the university back up the things they say.”

Leone said Temple Police haven’t yet determined whether the person who wrote the letter is a student.

This isn’t the first instance of racist or homophobic speech to appear on campus this year.

In December, several posters with racial slurs were hung around Main Campus. In September, students were outraged when a male student left a banana on the doorknob of a Morgan Hall room — the only room on the floor occupied by all Black students.

Despite several instances of racial discrimination, Catacalos insists this instance won’t inhibit QPOC’s advocacy.

“The most important thing to realize for people and the person who wrote this is it’s not going to stop us,” Catacalos said. “It’s going to make us talk about it even more.”

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