By Jakai Martin

On October 15th, 2022, I was physically and verbally assaulted by a fellow Illinois State University student. Illinois State University is becoming notorious for its ‘active fraternity life’ since there have been different minority communities targeted by its members. With that being said, there are a limited amount of safe places for queer students to occupy– and that number is shrinking rapidly. I am pleading to President Kinzy as well as the community within Normal and Bloomington, to become aware of the queer oppression that is happening daily. 

I, Jakai Martin, a Junior Sociology student at Illinois State University, identify as queer and gender nonconforming. Being educated on different forms of inequalities and oppressive forces within society, I have become unwillingly aware that queer students are not safe amongst the student population on and off campus. An Illinois State University who shall remain unnamed blatantly harassed me amongst my peers at an off-campus event in celebration of Illinois State University’s ‘Homecoming Weekend.’ Despite the fact that I was degraded among my peers, his words and physical assault is representative of the culture of fraternity life on campus. For example, on September 28th, 2022, the fraternity of Kappa Sigma Upsilon-Upsilon Chapter vandalized two different properties that belonged to other sororities and fraternities here at Illinois State. This vandalism included homophobic slurs that were spray painted in red for all of the students at Illinois State University to see. Although these actions have not been verbally addressed by President Kinzy or Illinois State University, students have been forced to become more aware of the prejudices against queer students on campus. Being a gay, black male in any social sphere is dangerous, but I did not expect to be assaulted because of my identity at the school I pay to attend. 

I will be pressing charges against said Illinois State Student, but I am calling for other students and faculty members to become more aware of queer oppressive forces on and off campus. I was referred to as a  “faggot” in front of multiple other Illinois State University students– to conclude his verbal attacks, he physically assaulted me. I was quickly escorted by friends and taken care of immediately after the assault, but his actions speak volumes regarding the power the majority has over minority students on and off campus. Numerous Illinois State University students have grown up in a society that has enabled them to believe that they can physically and verbally assault their peers in front of an engaged audience. I hope my story can lead to some sort of change in the culture at Illinois State University. 

Jakai Martin | Sociology major, political science, gender studies minor(s)

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