by Brian O’Shea, ’06/Elon Staff 2005-2011
I share the following letter I sent to Elon University President Dr. Leo Lambert on October 16, 2009 after an extraordinary experience marching alongside hundreds of thousands at the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. October 11, 2009. The opinions expressed then are still very true today. I feel fortunate to call Elon my alma mater and my professional home for over six and a half years. We may always have strides to make, but I am thankful today for this incredible environment.
October 16, 2009
Dear Dr. Lambert,
This past weekend I had the opportunity and resources to spend two days in our nation’s capital marching with over 250,000 other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight people. We marched for 2.5 miles and rallied on the steps of the Capitol building for hours to demand our equality under the law. It was truly an experience that I and (hopefully) my husband will be able to tell our children about one day. I met others from across the country from all different backgrounds, religions, races, and orientations and while we were all so different we marched for one sole purpose, equality for all.
After returning from this incredible experience, I drove into work on Monday morning with tears in my eyes because while I had the opportunity to return to a community that embraces me for who I am, tens of thousands returned from the march to hostile communities, families and environments. While I came back to a place that encourages me to own my identity because our community values diversity and the lessons that come with it, others struggle daily to survive against near insurmountable odds.
I write to tell you about this experience in order to thank you, the senior staff and the Board of Trustees for being on what I believe to be the right side of history in recognizing the value in all types of diversity. Elon is a place that encourages faculty, staff and students to be their authentic self. It is a place that allows students to feel safe as they explore all the aspects that make them who they are. It is a place that does not tolerate hate or oppression. It is a place that celebrates diversity as an essential part of ones education. For all these reasons and more, I thank you.
I take advantage of every opportunity I get I tell others about Elon’s recognition of domestic partnerships. I feel valued that Elon recognizes that my relationship with my partner is just as important and legitimate as those of heterosexual relationships. Elon has always been a leader in so many ways, but with this one action, Elon has set itself apart in a big way. It would have been easy to follow the pack and not take action like so many organizations, corporations and the government, but I am proud to say that I am a part of a university that is rarely a follower.
I admire the work you do to make Elon the best it can be. I cannot accurately describe how it prides me to be associated with this very special place. Elon has and always will have a special place in my heart. Thank you, Dr. Lambert.
Please feel free to share as you see fit with members of the senior staff, members of the board and/or others members of the Elon community.
Brian O’Shea ‘04
Assistant to the vice president for student life and dean of students