Weeks ago, a 14-year-old boy committed suicide in Buffalo, N.Y. after he was tormented online and in school for being gay. Though the acceptance level may be rising, it's apparently not high enough. Suicide shouldn't have to be an option for students – especially when there is the potential for so much support. But are there really enough safe spaces at high schools and colleges worldwide?
When I hear of stories like this, I wonder how people let bullying get so far. The ridicule is in plain sight – on news feeds, wall posts and statuses – and yet, there are many that do nothing about it. Whether it be because they're a friend of the bully or because they think someone else will take care of it, they step away. But it's ignorance that leads to tragedy.
I find, however, that the Hofstra community is one of the most welcoming. Fraternities and sororities don't turn you away because you're gay. Your RAs and mentors won't turn their backs when you need them most, and your friend group will very likely support you through everything.
We have monthly, if not more frequent, programs to encourage safe spaces and being open about your sexuality.
We don't just encourage you to express who you are; we celebrate it. Through drag fashion shows and awareness activities put on by the PRIDE network, Hofstra encourages students to be who they are – whoever that may be. Tolerance is even built into training sessions for jobs all throughout campus.
It may just be that my eyes cannot genuinely see the torment that lurks in Hofstra's corners but it's my observation that those gray areas are far and few in between. And if they aren't, then it's my knowledge that there are more than plentiful resources on campus that would stand up and fight.
Hofstra has been scrutinized for its "Long Island" stereotype and is often ridiculed for reasons including food, subject matters and its students' clothing choices.
At the end of the day, you can't criticize the school for its sexual tolerance. Isn't that far more important than whether the orange girl looks awful in leggings and Uggs?
Our University needs to lead by example. We must demonstrate how easy it is to be accepting, what you can do to give students a sense of it, and why it's important to do so. If we can do that, we may save an innocent life.
When I say I'm a proud member of the Hofstra community, I mean it. I am tolerant, and thousands of students are as well. Join us and be a part of something much greater than what many colleges think have.