LGBTQ FSA Response to Recent Justice4Viv Action
April 29, 2022
The LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Association is aware of the recent activism on our campus that has brought further attention to the death of Vivien Barrett, a former staff member at AOK Library and a very important member of the LGBTQ community at UMBC.
For more information about the recent student protests and a thorough summary of the circumstances surrounding this action, we suggest reading Simone “Scone” Loysen’s (they/them and he/him) article originally published in the print edition of The Retriever; they have made the article available online via their blog: https://teawithscones.com/2022/04/27/justice4viv-student-protests-revive-calls-for-firing-of-aok-library-circulation-manager/
The current objective of “Justice4Viv” calls for the immediate termination of Paula Langley, AOK Library’s Circulation Manager. We are not certain about the reasoning or intent behind using Viv’s story beyond the fact that Viv’s identity as a trans woman provoked behavior that Viv felt was harmful and creating an unsafe work environment. Additionally, we are unsure of how Viv’s loved ones have been involved in this movement, though they seem to be supportive as they were present at the recent rally.
Regardless, the LGBTQ FSA is strongly aware of the complicated impact that Viv’s death and this sudden revival of her story have had on faculty and staff. We also hold complicated sentiments. On the one hand, there is new attention brought to Viv’s story and it is provoking action that--at the very least--raises awareness about anti-trans discrimination and a pattern of institutional silencing and betrayal. On the other, Viv’s life and death by suicide are being leveraged without her consent for political means.
We don’t know exactly what Viv might have wanted, but we do know that she loved working at UMBC even though it was not always a safe place for her. We know that transgender pain is often a result of systemic violence perpetuated by individual prejudice. We know that people’s stories and their lived reality can quickly become minimized or abstracted for political gain. We know that suicide is not solely self-inflicted but something motivated by the relationships we have in the world and with the world. We also know that trans people are twice as likely to die as cis people and that the life expectancy of trans women is far lower than that of cis women.
We grieve Viv--and that grief looks different for each person. We can support Justice4Viv and acknowledge the pain that this work brings up for us.
To the LGBTQ faculty and staff community at UMBC, especially our transgender faculty and staff members, we see you and we are here to support you.
To the LGBTQ students at UMBC, we support your activism and your passion for justice. We appreciate the work you have done to bring further awareness to trans issues at UMBC and beyond our campus. Many of us are also in pain, navigating our own experiences of injustice and discrimination, and working through grief. We hope that you understand why faculty and staff may need space and time to grapple with the feelings and memories that come with this revisitation of Viv’s story.
We are in ongoing discussions with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Darcie Adams (current Inclusion Council student representative, member of LGBTQ Student Union) and other campus leaders to address this thoughtfully and compassionately. We are hopeful that there will be more avenues to improve our campus and thereby create a climate of inclusive excellence and social justice.
If you have questions, concerns, or would like to talk with the LGBTQ FSA about our next steps, please email email@example.com and/or Amelia Meman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Darcie Adams is also available at email@example.com.
If you’d like to report an incident of discrimination to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, you can do so via this online form. Please note that this form has the option of making an anonymous report. The UMBC Sexual Misconduct (Title IX) Policy and Anti-Discrimination Policy applies to all UMBC students, student employees, faculty, staff, interns, contractors, volunteers, guests and visitors. Do not use this form to report an immediate threat. If you or someone you know is in danger, immediately call UMBC Police at (410) 455-5555 or call 911.
Health and Wellness Resources (On- and Off-Campus): https://oei.umbc.edu/health-and-wellness-resources/
Posted: April 29, 2022, 11:16 AM