About 300 at Miami rally against hate

OXFORD — The Miami community rallied together Thursday night, April 22, in response to several gay students being assaulted Uptown last weekend because of their sexual orientation.

About 300 people marched through the campus with flags and signs demanding “no more hate on my campus.”

The rally came just days after several students were assaulted at a drag show benefit at an Uptown bar Saturday, April 17.

Miami junior Benjamin Collings said he suffered a fractured cheek bone, a broken nose and two black eyes in the assault. Collings said he and his boyfriend were taken to the hospital after what was possibly several fights that started in the bathroom of the bar after a man, who has not been identified, used derogatory language saying “(Expletive) do not belong in society.”

As Collings tried to leave the bathroom, he said he was shoved and then pushed to the ground.

When Collings exited the bar intending to help police identify suspects, he and a friend were attacked by 10 to 15 people, he said.

“They went in there with the intent to start something,” Collings said of the suspects. “The root cause of it was because of my sexual orientation.”

Collings said he’s been cooperating with Oxford police as they investigate and meet with Miami officials to “raise awareness and make sure people realize intolerance is not OK.”

As part of the vent, a town hall meeting addressed the upcoming “Ghetto Fest” party and a rally in response to the recent assaults.

Ghetto Fest will happen Saturday, April 27, around Sycamore Street, according to the Facebook.com event page. It is a large party held every spring by residents in the area, which many people have termed “the ghetto” because of its lower rent costs.

Several Miami panel participants were upset about the word “ghetto” being used in the party’s name.

“People on the outside are looking at this and they see that we have a Ghetto Fest and have that connotation,” said Chris Lyttle. “The stereotype of the Miami University is a very non-inclusive school, so we’re at a point where the school is at a crossroad. We can say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ that we’re going to be an inclusive school and I think it’s going in the direction that we are not.”

Scott Brewer, a Miami senior who will be hosting the Ghetto Fest at his house, said he felt the event has been misconstrued by some members of the university.

“I think it’s blown out of proportion and people are too worried,” Brewer said. “Ghetto Fest is essentially like any other party on campus, there’s not meaning. The area here at Miami has been termed the ‘ghetto’ for the last 20 years.”

“Institutional racism can be disguised in a cloak under tradition,” said panelist Brent Johnson.

“I am tired of not being able to go Uptown with my girlfriend without worrying about getting attacked,” said junior Katie Blum. “I am not going to change who I am. If anything is going to change, it will be the attitude in Oxford.”

Contributing writer Sarah Reder contributed to this report.

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