Pride Center retracts letter opposing Veterans Resources relocation

Vada Shelby, News Contributor

The Oregon State University Pride Center released, and has since retracted, an open letter on Facebook stating they opposed the proposed action to move the OSU Military and Veterans Resource Office into the Student Experience Center located in the center of campus, causing an outcry in the community. 

The retraction, which was published six days after the initial open letter, stated that it violated the communications policy and did not reflect the views of the Pride Center, SOL — a multicultural LGBTQ+ support group — and Oregon State University.

The open letter published on March 21, signed at the bottom as Pride Center & SOL: LGBTQ+ Multicultural Support Network student staff, denounced the “glorification of a system responsible for the violence against marginalized people and the LGBTQ+ community.” 

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The letter cited the Trump Administration’s decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military and how interventions abroad were “responsible for killing our LGBTQ+ siblings” as reasons to denounce U.S. militarism.  However, it also stated that they did not intend to attack individual veterans and that their resources are still open to veterans seeking support.

“Student veterans on campus are deserving of a space, but their presence in such a centralized location on campus jeopardizes the wellbeing of many vulnerable students, including those a part of the LGBTQ+ community,” said the open letter.

On March 21, the Pride Center retracted and deleted the open letter from their Facebook page. According to the post, the open letter was written by, and represents, the views of individuals students and not the Pride Center. 

 “We recognize the statement has been a source of pain for many individuals. At times such as these, we need to consider all members of our community and their diverse experiences in order to build the brave space we strive for, where community members engage in challenging, yet respectful conversations through conscious questioning and active listening,” according to the Pride Center Facebook page clarifying the retraction.

Many veterans and students involved in veterans’ resources on campus have expressed concern toward the Pride Center’s open letter. Fourth-year nuclear engineering student and student veteran Mack Cullison thinks the Pride Center has valid concerns, but the Veterans Association is not targeting them how they think they are.

“The reason I think the post is misleading is that the Pride Center’s post goes on about government policies and things happening overseas,” Cullison said. “It makes it seem like the veterans are tied into all that when that isn’t really the case. The Veterans Association is trying to get a centralized location on campus so incoming students and veterans have a one-stop shop and place to identify with.”

After requests for comment, the Pride Center did not respond in time for publication.

First-year public policy graduate student and veteran, Meagan Consedine, who served from 2001-2007 in the U.S. Army on active duty, said the military has had a history of adapting to social change.

“The military has adapted to social change along with our nation. This includes equal opportunity, women in leadership roles, integration and same-sex marriage,” Consedine said via email. 

Consedine cited her own experience watching a unit grow to accept non-heterosexual members.

“I watched as a unit went from keeping this quiet, to welcoming a same-sex spouse at a battalion ball within a month’s span of the federal law’s repeal,” Consedine said. “Far from being perfect, the military is a microcosm of the United States. There are supporters and detractors of the LGBTQ community – but marginalizing veterans throws up a wall between these communities and only serves to widen existing gaps.”

Steven Olson, coordinator of Veterans Affairs at Associated Students of OSU, said Veterans Affairs is planning on releasing their own response soon, but until then he has provided his personal response to the Pride Center’s open letter, as an Oregon State University student. 

“I thought when the Pride Center released their statement, the effects were going to be more than what they had initially expected. The qualifiers they used in the statement don’t negate the content of it,” Olson said. “I understand there are some fears members of the community have. If there are fears, they should definitely be brought forward, but in a more respectful way than this.”

The Pride Center, Veterans Resources and the Office of Institutional Diversity will be hosting an event titled ‘Support circle for LGBTQIA+ veterans and friends’ on April 15  at noon.

Anybody with questions or concerns is encouraged to attend the forum session.

The event description states, “This is a first step in community building, and we will continue to work collaboratively with the Military and Veteran Resources office and other campus partners. Please stay tuned for next steps.”