Friday, July 5, 2013

Emails to Vice President Walter Poland at SUNY Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) concerning Bullying, Loss, Trauma, Gay Bashing, Abuse, and Harassment, by Alec Frazier

The following is an email I sent to Walter Poland, the Vice President at SUNY Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) after I was done, and before my graduation ceremony, at 5:27 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, 2010. I copied Carolyn Boone, the Coordinator of Access & Equity Services, and Katrina Campbell, my adviser.
Dear Vice President Poland,

Last night, I went to an event that was advertised as a social mixer to be hosted by the TC3 Alumni Association. It was not. It was an awards ceremony. Those who are in the know can tell you that I do quite terribly at awards ceremonies. Part of it is because of an inborn sense of entitlement that I have due to my autism (which literally means “self-ism”). And part of it is because of the fact that, no matter how many personal and external demons I conquer, I know for a fact that I will never get proper recognition.
During my time at TC3 I have wept, bled, and sweat for the good of this school. I have persevered despite over a half dozen mental disabilities which once prompted me to be institutionalized in sixth grade. There were many times when I could have given up. Like the time during first semester when I was beaten to a pulp by a roommate of mine. Oh, don’t worry. One of us had to leave the dorms: it was me. This would only be the first instance when vile acts directed towards me would go unpunished.
I was on Student Advisory Board for a good semester and a half, during which time I was a delegate to the system-wide SUNY Assembly. It is true that I had significant differences of opinion with the president of that august body, who claimed that I was no fun because I would not allow him to make fun of my mother. I will put things politely, and simply say that the president of SAB was extremely conservative and (I am trying to avoid a lawsuit here) extremely insensitive towards the feelings of those he did not agree with. He even treated his friends unfairly, such as the vice president whom he called fat on multiple occasions. I realized that I was better than to let this get to me.
For the next three semesters, I more than made up for being cast out of SAB by being a productive member of the government of residence life. I was on Hall Council for three semesters, two of which I served as parliamentarian, during which time I headed the committee that named the fifth dormitory. For those same three semesters, I was on Judicial Board, and I like to think that I brought some revolutionary thinking to the way cases were heard.
All of this happened during an extremely turbulent time in my life. My parents divorced and my father moved thousands of miles away. My brother had drug problems and severe run-ins with the law. My mother nearly died and manifested poor health conditions that will necessitate being on drugs and oxygen for the rest of her life. And I came out of the closet.
When I came out of the closet, my roommates at TC3 called me a homo and a queer. When I said goodbye to one of them upon leaving for spring break I got the typical response, “You suck cocks in hell, faggot.” I continuously tried to move out of what was an abusive living situation. I was told by one of the assistant directors of residence life that there was a very good possibility that I would be moving into a worse situation. And so I stayed put. I finally could not take it anymore. I have never gotten an apology, or even a recognition from anyone on staff or TC3 faculty that what happened during that semester was in any way, shape, or form wrong. Because of this, I am left with the impression that residence life in particular and TC3 in general condones gay bashing.
Next semester, a particular family debacle caused me to fly off the handle. I threw something. It was wrong of me. What is amazing though, is that while people in residence life had been able to get away with all sorts of downright illegal stuff while I was living there, I was evicted. Since then I have made a much better life for myself.
I thought that when all was said and done, my efforts to succeed in life would be recognized. Last night, despite my extenuating circumstances (which by far outweigh those of a single mother with a family medical emergency; it’s not that I don’t feel bad for her, I’m just stating fact) I did not get the Hushang Bahar Award. Nor were my tireless efforts in student leadership recognized by the Activities and Leadership Award. To be honest, I don’t even think the Activities Office knew of my time in Hall Council or the Judicial Board due to the disconnect between the former ResLife administration and the main campus administration, one of the problems I tried to rectify by activating the position of Hall Council Liaison to the SAB. If I had to formulate a final impression of TC3, I would have to say that it left me feeling bitter, terrible, and unrewarded for the true suffering I have gone through in order to achieve my degree. In fact, I felt quite physically ill after the ceremony last night.
For all the trouble I have gone to in order to triumph overall adversity and be a student leader, I got a piece of paper with the URL of the Alumni Association. I may as well have been told to fuck off. I am so very glad that I will be getting out of this miserable place, where true achievement is not rewarded.


Alexander Fuld Frazier

“Oel ngati kameie, ma Tsmukan, ulte ngaru seiyi ireiyo. Ngari hu Eywa saleu tirea, tokx 'ì'awn slu Na'viyä hapxì.”
Translation: “I See you Brother, and thank you. Your spirit goes with Eywa, your body stays behind to become part of the People.”

—Na'vi Prayer, James Cameron’s Avatar
At. 5:51 p.m. on Tuesday, December 06, 2011 I sent the following message.
Walter, my friend.

Over the past few years, I have made a name for myself as a tireless advocate for myself and others. I won’t bore you with details. There is only one constant problem in my life. Now I want you to give me the answer you owe me.

The question:
Was I gaybashed at TC3?

Your two choices for answers:
No Comment

As of yet, no one who works at TC3 has said yes. If you answer yes, I will not pursue any action against you or any person or organization affiliated with the school.

If you answer no comment or do not respond at all, I want you to think long and hard about what that says about you and the school.

Alec Frazier
Contributing Author, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
Consultant, VSA, the International Organization for Disability and the Arts
Member, UB Diversity in Disability Planning Committee
I have yet to receive a reply from anyone, or acknowledgement on the part of anyone at TC3 that these events have taken effect.
The idea to post this blog entry is courtesy of my employer and advocate, who believes that there is a story to be told. He is right.

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