Hate crime awareness event kicks off with theater production

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    It’s a message Stephen Sprinkle says he will never forget.

    “‘We know you walk to school,'” said the person on his voicemail about 10 years ago. “‘We know what route you take. One day, you will not come back.'”

    The Brite Divinity School director of field education and supervised ministry, who is openly gay, propmptly notified the Fort Worth police, which resolved the situation after tracing the call to a TCU student’s phone number.

    “I’m one of the very lucky ones,” Sprinkle said of his experience with hate crimes.

    University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, whose murder is reflected on in “The Laramie Project,” was not so lucky.

    Organizers of the TCU Erase Hate Campaign said they plan to use Shepard’s death to call attention to the victims of all hate crimes.

    “Most Americans know about Matthew Shepard,” Sprinkle said. “But most people are unaware of the hundreds of people who have been murdered for being LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) in the years before Matthew’s murder or in the years since.”

    Between 2004 and 2006, there have been roughly as many individual victims of hate crimes each year as there are undergraduates at TCU – about 7,000 per year, according to statistics from the FBI’s Web site.

    The Rev. Jeremy Albers of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, one of the campaign’s many sponsors, said most of the activities planned for the campaign were independently scheduled by the organizations involved.

    Brite Divinity School, for instance, invited Harry Knox, the Director of Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program, to speak on Oct. 14. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights group working to achieve equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered citizens, according to its Web site.

    Once everyone realized that GLBT History Month and the ten-year observance of Shepard’s murder occurred around the same time as the events scheduled by Brite and the theatre department, Albers said the pieces of the campaign fell into place.

    The campaign kicks off today with the opening of “The Laramie Project” in Hays Theatre.

    Thomas Howard Jr., the foundation’s programming director, will host a discussion immediately after the show’s first performance.

    Howard said TCU is the first school he knows of using the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s materials in a schoolwide Erase Hate Campaign.

    GSA members will show “The Life and Times of Morris Kight,” a documentary about the Los Angeles-based gay rights activist who graduated from TCU in 1942, on Oct. 13 in Palko Hall. At 7:30 p.m., Albers will lead a candlelight vigil honoring Matthew Shepard from Palko Hall to Frog Fountain.

    GSA president Blade Berkman said he hopes other campus organizations will join GSA in Palko.

    “It’s important that TCU students get out of the mind set that hate crimes just happen to a select group of people,” Berkman said.

    FOR YOUR INFO

    Erase Hate Campaign Events

    Tuesday

    11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Erase Hate Tabling at the University Union

    7:30 p.m. “The Laramie Project” and community conversation with Thomas Howard of the Matthew Shepard Foundation at Hays Theatre

    Wednesday to Friday

    7:30 p.m. “The Laramie Project” at Hays Theatre

    Sunday

    2:30 p.m. “The Larmaie Project” at Hays Theatre

    7:30 p.m. “The Laramie Project” at Hays Theatre

    Oct. 12

    12:53 a.m. Time of Death Observance for Matthew Shepard

    Oct. 13

    5 p.m. Palko Hall-Jones Lounge Reception for TCU Allies, LBGTQ Communities of Brite Divinity/TCU

    6 p.m. Showing of movie “The Life and Times of Morris Kight” in Palko Hall

    7:30p.m. Candlelight Procession begins at Palko Hall and ends at Frog Fountain. Invocation by the Rev. Jeremy Albers, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life

    Oct. 14

    11:30 a.m. Harry Knox, director of the Religion & Faith Program of the Human Rights Campaign at Robert Carr Chapel

    Noon-1 p.m. Community Conversation with Harry Knox, director of the Religion & Faith Program of the Human Rights Campaign in Weatherly Hall of Brite Divinity’s Moore Building