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Gay Bashing Uproar Rocks Marietta College

Student Admits Authorship-- President Wilson Responds

Campus Voices 'Outrage' Over Anti-Gay Sites

By Jack Nichols

Marietta College, Ohio—Following last week's two exposes in GayToday uncovering student gay- bashing web sites, the campus of this peaceful Midwestern educational institution has been rocked with controversy.

marita1207a.gif - 29.16 K The online version of The Marcolian, the student newspaper of Marietta College, gave sweeping coverage to the story.

Marietta's on-line newspaper, The Marcolian, linked both of GayToday's reports. The student paper's complete coverage included six separate articles: (1) a lengthy lead article in which Doug Wickert, of the class of '01, is said to have admitted authorship of the sites, (2) an editorial about free speech, (3) a grave response from Marietta's President, (4) pleas of innocence from the bashing "expert's" roommates, (5) comments from "outraged" Marietta students and (6) a two-paragraph apology by Doug Wickert.

"GayToday, a daily Internet webzine, called attention to the site," says Editor-in-Chief of The Marcolian, Jaime Cleland. "Doug Wickert, '01, has admitted to the authorship of a Gay Basher's Home Page."

marita1207c.gif - 33.62 K Doug Wickert, picutred on The Marcolian's Web site, was reportedly the mastermind of the gay bashing sites.

"It has not put the college in a good light," Marietta President Larry Wilson is quoted as saying. On December 3, Mike Brown, Director of College Communications at Marietta, faxed GayTodayPresident Wilson's formal statement following the publicity that ensued. The President, unable to bring himself to utter the "G" word, said:

"It was brought to my attention on Tuesday, December 1, that a Marietta College student created on a national Internet provider a web page which carried a message derogatory and hateful toward certain members of our society. The message made reference to Marietta College web sites. Such language is unacceptable at Marietta College and it will not be tolerated."

Traci Dziatkowicz, the college Senate's gay/lesbian/bisexual commissioner told The Marcolian that a lot of people didn't know what President Wilson was talking about and that he had failed to use the words "gay" or "homosexual."

Wilson defended his obscure phraseology ("certain members of our society") by claiming he "wanted to make it broader" and to "make it clear that hateful speech against any group is not appropriate."

He maintains that "The use of the student's campus e-mail for such purposes violates the College's Internet 'acceptable Use Policy' which all students must sign before being assigned an e-mail address. This policy states in part: '…information resources will be used by members of the campus community with respect for the public trust...and in accordance with policies and regulations established by the College…This includes the Marietta College Creed, the Sexual and Discriminatory Harassment policy, and all other policies which govern campus life."

Wilson continued: "I assure you that vigilant investigation of this incident is underway to determine the extent to which it constitutes violation of the College Creed, a document binding for all students. In the interim, the student's e-mail access and other network-related privileges available through Marietta College have been suspended."

gaybash4.gif - 20.71 K An example of Wickert's sense of humor: Nuclear bombs and Huns

Marietta's president observed that "For two centuries, Marietta College has stood for the highest level of conduct which exemplifies respect and dignity for others. While the College is respectful of each individual's right to freedom of speech and expression, I trust that all members of the Marietta College community will join me in condemning the actions in this case."

The Marcolian's Editor-in-Chief quotes President Wilson as having said that "some are advocating extreme actions (against Wickert)…but while I disagree bitterly with the message, the person has the right to be dealt with through appropriate channels."

In any case, Wilson said, "I hope it will be dealt with very quickly—this is a matter that needs prompt attention."

On December 2, The Sexual and Discriminatory Harassment Board met at 2:30 p.m. to discuss Doug Wickert's seeming violations of campus rules. No comment by the board has thus far been made, however, until further investigations are complete.

Wickert, according to The Marcolian, "maintains his page 'was satirical; it wasn't meant to offend people,' " while the campus paper quotes some of his more offensive gay bashing material. Cleland writes:

"The site also described the proper technique for a 'sport' called gay bashing which advocated beating homosexuals with baseball bats. Most viewpoints on the home page were attributed to a Mike or Frank Rizzo. Rizzo, Wickert says, is a character from the Jerky Boys."

Wickert told the campus paper that he was not a believer in the gay bashing advice he had dispensed. "I was misunderstood," he said.

Many Marietta students apparently have judged Wickert's "satirical" intentions as unfunny. "Most people at MC aren't laughing at Wicket's joke," writes Cleland.

Wickert's roommates and friends—particularly those who have been mentioned by name on his web pages, have denounced his perspectives, and, it seems by extension, Wickert himself.

One particularly unhappy roommate, Jay Gerber, wrote to GayToday (see Pen Points) to say specifically that he was denouncing his roommate. Gerber, a political science major who envisions for himself a possible future career in elective office, insists he was unaware his name had appeared in one Wickert site as the "founding father" of The Hetero Sexual Alliance. "If I want to run for any office," The Marcolian quotes him, "This could kick me in the ass."

marietta.gif - 34.39 K The peacful college town has been rocked by the actions of one of its students Marietta's Associate Professor of Philosophy/Sociology, David Boyer, has distributed an on-campus memo calling for disassociation of the school from the gay bashing sites. "It's not good enough just to pull the message," he said, "The entire community should be able to speak out….The more people who clearly denounce this behavior, the better."

Heather Spencer, vice-president of Marietta's Rainbow Alliance, says that her group will present a movie titled Off the Straight and Narrow on campus Wednesday and that next semester, the Rainbow Alliance has planned a pride week and "a pamphlet on gay issues to be distributed to freshmen."

In his formal apology to the school (see Pen Points for what appears to be his informal pseudonymous "apology") Doug Wicker says, "These (gay bashing) comments were not supposed to be taken seriously…I was writing satirically and do not approve of gay bashing….I am also sorry that I may have tarnished Marietta College's fine reputation. My page was also not meant to be read by people who didn't know me. If you knew me, it would be understood that I was joking."

Traci Dziatkowicz replied: "At least to me when you start joking about napalm, that's really a serious joke."

"It's sad that something like this had to happen to get a reaction from the campus," she told The Marcolian.
Releated Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Murderers on Campus? Meet Mike Rizzo & Company
Gay Basher's Web Site Goes Down Flaming

Releated Sites:
The Marcolian
Marietta College
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