The University at Albany, part of the New York State university system, canceled a trip for the men's basketball team to play at Duke later this year due to the anti-LGBT law HB2, the Blue Devils found a replacement -- Marist College -- also from New York. While the administration at Marist put out a statement that the school opposes the HB2 law that discriminates against LGBT people in North Carolina, the school said they oppose the law, so there's no problem with the team going to North Carolina.
That didn't sit well with Michael Brosseau, an openly gay alumnus of the college. He penned a letter to school president David Yellen expressing his dissatisfaction with the decision to send athletes, coaches and university personnel to North Carolina. Brosseau told Outsports many other LGBT alumni of the school feel the same way.
Dear President Yellen,
I, like most people you must meet during this period of your professional career, attended Marist College, proudly share that I graduated in 2014 and continue as a member of the Marist community as an alumnus. Like many others who spent time in Poughkeepsie, Marist became not just a college to me, but a genuine home in which I discovered myself in ways I didn't ever truly believe were genuine.
Growing up in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, I knew I was always meant for something more. More in this instance, was the time I spent on the beautiful campus in the Hudson Valley. During my time there, I managed to achieve a variety of goals, culminating in my graduation two years ago. I was first a student and classmate, followed by friend, employee, intern, and eventually, alum. I walked the pathways of the campus as a tour guide for Undergraduate Admission, as an Orientation Leader for First Year Programs, as a Marketing/Promotions intern for Marist Athletics. I lived in the residence halls both as a student and as a Resident Assistant for the Summer Pre-College institute. I stepped onto the campus as a young man living his life in fear of authenticity as a member of the LGBT community, and I left campus as an outspoken member of the LGBT community working with the Diversity Committee to enhance the quality of life for LGBT members of the Marist College community. When I left campus in May 2014, I didn't just leave an imprint of my time there, I left a footprint in spots where I once stood. I mourned for more time at Marist, but I knew that I had left the campus a better place than when I first arrived in August 2010.
Your decision to allow our Men's Basketball program to travel to North Carolina despite the current presence of House Bill 2 is incredibly disheartening to a community of people that embraced not just me as an openly gay man, but fellow classmates, faculty, staff, student-athletes, donors and more. HB2, as it is referred, is a law that essentially mandates that that transgender people must use the bathroom corresponding with the birth gender in government buildings and publicly funded schools. Additionally, this law bans state municipalities from enacting anti-discrimination policies impacting LGBT residents. In short, they are humanizing discrimination against people who have just within the last few years, clawed their way to equality via same-sex marriage. This is a community of people who fought against their sexual orientation/gender identity being considered an illness, a mental defect. This is a community of people who have read national headlines about LGBT community members having their lives taken, and some even taking their own lives.
Members of this community are members of the Marist College community, and by allowing Marist Men's Basketball to travel to North Carolina you are sending a message that the rights of LGBT Red Foxes are not significant to the College. You are sending a message that a financial gain from this experience playing at Duke University is more important than standing by individuals who have walked the pathways, walked the hallways, and sat in McCann Arena on our beautiful campus. The Head Coach of Duke University, Mike Krzyzewski, has denounced this bill as embarrassing. The National Basketball Association removed their All Star Festivities out of Charlotte in protest. The University of Albany said its team would not participate in that tournament because of HB2 and, as an alumnus, I am embarrassed and disappointed that my alma mater stepped in to take UAlbany's place.
By approving this athletic event, Marist College is failing to live up to both its Mission and Values Statement, which calls for intellect and character in its students, and the fulfillment of three ideals: excellence in education, a sense of community, and a commitment to service. These come from the founders of the College, the Marist Brothers. As President, I ask that you reconsider the decision to allow our Men's Basketball Program to travel to North Carolina and Duke University, or risk an indelible stain on the proud tradition of Marist College.