Thursday, June 11, 2015

Case Study No. 2017: Staff of Wimberly Library

Student Denied Laptop For Being Gay?!
Abdul Asquith, an openly gay student at Florida Atlantic University, says a campus librarian denied renting him a laptop because of his sexuality. Tweet:

Do you think the student's sexuality is the real reason he was denied a laptop? Let us know in the comments!

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Added: 1 year ago
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[scene opens with footage from the The Young Turks' college-themed YouTube show, as co-hosts Miki Matteson and John Iadarola are talking]
JOHN: A student at Florida Atlantic University says that he was denied the use of a laptop because he's gay. Now, the actual details ... not exactly holding up that theory, I guess, but it does seem very questionable, what happened to him.
MIKI: Right.
JOHN: Very unfortunate. So this is Abdul Asquith, a student at FAU. Uh, he went to the Wimberly Library and asked for one of the laptops that you can check out. Uh, to get it, you have to show your ID. Um, and so apparently what happened was, the librarian looked at the ID and said, "You sound, look, and act like a girl, and in this ID is a man, therefore I'm not giving you a laptop."
[they both look at each other]
JOHN: Um, questionable.
MIKI: Yeah.
JOHN: Uh ... Let's bring up a picture of Abdul here.
[cut to a still image of the student]
JOHN: [from off camera] So, uh, that's the student who filed this complaint against the librarian. We also have a picture of the ID.
[cut to a still image of the student's photo ID ("Florida Atlantic University Owl Card")]
JOHN: [from off camera] Um, looks the same to me.
MIKI: [from off camera] Looks the same.
JOHN: [from off camera] Now granted, I wasn't at the library, and I guess ... Let's play devil's advocate really fast.
[cut back to the two co-hosts]
JOHN: You're a librarian, and a student comes and wants a laptop, which could be expensive, possibly.
MIKI: Right.
JOHN: It doesn't seem to match the ID. What do you do?
MIKI: I ... That's where I get questionable with this story, because if genuinely, they didn't look like their ID picture, and that's that librarian's responsibility to protect that equipment--
JOHN: Mm hmm.
MIKI: I would start asking questions.
JOHN: Yeah.
MIKI: However, that picture just doesn't look that different from me
JOHN: Mm hmm.
MIKI: And in the, uh ... There was a video along with it. Um, he says that he wasn't wearing anything--
[she makes air quotes with her fingers]
MIKI: He wasn't "in character." He says that sometimes he dresses as a woman, but he was ... He had his hair pulled back, and was in shorts and a sweatshirt.
JOHN: Mm hmm.
MIKI: So I--
JOHN: Lookin' like a student.
MIKI: Right.
JOHN: Yeah.
MIKI: And the fact that he had to go through three librarians before he got a laptop computer is a little bit confusing. Um, so either that means that more than one librarian was prejudiced, or it means that that day he really didn't look like his ID, and it confused more than one person.
JOHN: Yeah.
MIKI: It's hard to tell.
JOHN: Yeah, I mean, eventually he did get the laptop ... which is good, they eventually corrected the little error there. Uh, obviously, if you are this student, this is horrifyingly embarrassing.
MIKI: Right.
JOHN: It feels discriminatory, like you feel like you're being singled out because of something that you can't control, and on this channel we're always looking out for that because we don't like that that happens anywhere, least of all a university.
[he pauses]
JOHN: Um, but we don't know for sure that the way that it's being portrayed is actually what happened.
MIKI: Mm hmm.
JOHN: I mean, the fact that the quote was "You sound, look, and act like a girl" ... That seems like an idealized version of what discrimination would sound like.
MIKI: Mm hmm.
JOHN: I have a feeling the librarian did not say "You look, sound, and act like a girl" to this person's face.
MIKI: Yeah, it sounds like ... like, a summary of what might have actually been said.
JOHN: Yeah.
MIKI: I'd like to hear the librarian's side of the story, if she defended herself at all.
JOHN: Mmm.
MIKI: If there was any other ... any other details to this story that are missing.
JOHN: Yeah.
MIKI: It's just, something feels off about it ... but if that is the case, it's clearly, like, it's obviously wrong.
JOHN: Yeah, and I think that the solution is pretty simple. You just need to have the library staff, I guess, go through some sort of sensitivity training ... I'm not saying that that would necessarily help, I have a feeling that that will be done to avoid situations like this--
MIKI: Oh yeah.
JOHN: In the future, and hopefully now they're on a first-name basis with Abdul and he won't have a problem getting a laptop in the future.
MIKI: Hopefully.
JOHN: Hopefully.



An openly gay student at Florida Atlantic University believes a campus librarian denied him the use of a laptop due to his sexuality.

Abdul Asquith attempted on Oct. 23 to check out a laptop at the Wimberly Library on the Boca Raton, Fla. campus. The laptop checkout requires valid university-issued identification, but when Asquith showed his FAU ID, the librarian refused him

Asquith said the librarian looked at the ID and remarked, "You sound, look and act like a girl and in this ID is a man, therefore I'm not giving you a laptop."

Asquith was "appalled," "embarrassed" and "distraught," he said. He was finally able to obtain a laptop after speaking with several librarians.

"Because he acts a certain way, he can't possibly be this? It shouldn't even be like that," Samantha Lemessy, who witnessed the incident, told WPTV.

"People need to start speaking out and addressing this every time this happens," Asquit added.

FAU spokesperson Lisa Metcalf confirmed in a statement to The Huffington Post Monday that the student was initially denied his request.

"The situation was quickly corrected and an FAU administrator issued an immediate in-person apology," Metcalf said. "The University takes allegations of discrimination seriously and continues to investigate the incident."

For FAU, a public university in Florida, it adds to a growing pile of controversies over the past year.

Another FAU employee with unpopular views, tenured professor James Tracy, claimed the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre and the Boston Marathon bombings were likely staged.

An FAU professor also began receiving threats after a student took offense to a class exercise in the spring where pupils were asked to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and step on it. And early in 2013, the university received heated backlash after agreeing to name their stadium after a controversial for-profit prison group. One student protester said the university's president clipped them with her car at one demonstration in March. The deal was eventually scrapped and the president resigned.

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