Walker Wall: Two Episodes of Disrespect

This whole Gaypril Walker Wall situation is a disgrace, and at this point, I am not sure with whom I should be more frustrated. To me, it represents not one, but two pressing issues of insensitivity and ignorance at Pomona College. The first is obvious: the painting of homophobic, sexist, racist, and otherwise intolerant images and phrases on Walker Wall clearly represents a segment of the population at Pomona that is blatantly insensitive to others. The second issue, however, seems to escape everyone but me: the QRC and Allies’ painting of Walker Wall and handling of the graffiti is equally insensitive to the views of their opposition as well as to the views of all those who expressed themselves on Walker Wall pre-rainbow.

I see no reason that the QRC and Allies are entitled to oppress the views of all those before them by painting over the entirety of Walker Wall. By painting the whole wall, the QRC showed me that they, like the bigots who followed, attribute very little importance and respect to the views and beliefs of others. Sure, they did not write anything offensive, but by monopolizing the wall, they were assuming their celebration to be of greater value than all other political, social, economic, or personal views on campus combined. The Pomona College website describes Walker Wall as a “lively, freewheeling forum”—a description surely not depicted by the single-issue rainbow wall.

My distaste for the rainbow wall does not diminish my distaste for the bigotry shown by the graffitists. (Disclaimer: I never actually saw what the QRC stated to be “homophobic, racist and sexist” comments on the wall. So, I can’t actually verify that they exist and all I can see now are the Bev Scavvy things. I am simply assuming that the QRC wouldn’t go so far as to make a big fuss calling things homophobic and racist and such if they weren’t.) While I do not harbor any disdain for homosexuality, I do understand and respect (while not agreeing with) the view that it is immoral. A devoutly religious man who accepts the texts of Leviticus or Romans without question would surely feel the celebration of homosexuality is ridiculous, at best, if not downright sinful. As such, he might be inclined to voice his opinion in opposition of such a celebration, and he would in no way be out of line to voice said opinion on Walker Wall. Perhaps he would aptly cite Leviticus 18:22 or Romans 1:26-27, or he might find another way to express his beliefs in a coherent fashion. Such a person—even if I disagreed with him—would be the kind of person I would be proud to have as a member of my community. Unfortunately, this is not what happened. Rather than presenting original views in a civilized, educated manner, painters reduced their opinions to drunken scrawling. Such classless bigotry only makes worse what I already thought to be a poor representation of Walker Wall.

Only a short while ago, Walker Wall represented the diverse views of the student body. It represented our free expression. It was not a resource monopolized by any one group—not the QRC and definitely not the responding bigots. So perhaps some good can come of this debacle. Perhaps we may learn that we do not wish to be a school that supports oppressing or diminishing the views of others—whether out of pride or hate. Let us learn that we may show our pride and our disapproval in a civilized and reasonable fashion—one befitting of the great community that is Pomona College.

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