Student Targeted by “Death to Fags” Graffiti Leaves University

Will Daly, a student at Florida’s Stetson University, who felt he was the target of threatening graffiti placed around the living areas of his dorm, shocked students by leaving the university and transferring to a culinary school. Before he did so, however, he secured $10,000 so that Judy Shepard could come speak to the school and raise awareness about hate crimes.

WilldalyThe News-Journal reports: “Daly said the incident — and how the university handled it — are the main reasons for his departure. Students and faculty, just now returning to campus for the spring semester, are stunned. ‘This is terrible for Stetson,’ philosophy professor Susan Peppers-Bates wrote in an e-mail Thursday. ‘Will has been a strong and active presence on this campus combating homophobia.’ Wilson called herself heartbroken and added: ‘I hate for a student who brought so much to the community to be a casualty of such nonsense.’ Last month, the student newspaper, the Stetson Reporter, dubbed the vandalism a ‘hate crime.’ The story also reported that one of Daly’s suite mates, who is also gay, was targeted a week later. The student, who Daly said preferred to use him as a spokesman, had been in the laundry room and returned half an hour later to find someone had written ‘Death to FAGS’ in permanent marker on the wall. Although Daly contacted the residence hall director the morning he discovered the graffiti, it took a week for the metal door to be fixed and repainted. ‘The lack of support, the university’s response . . . really made my decision for me,’ he said.”

Daly_2The school cites a “communications breakdown” as the reason for the delay in the repair. Its students and faculty have responded, however:

“Last month, the Student Government Association passed a bill designed to add ‘hate speech’ as an offense in the student code of conduct. University administrators and student leaders started work on the revision this week, student government President Drew Glasnovich said. There is also a ‘safe zone’ initiative, where faculty and staff are putting stickers on their office doors to show gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students they are supportive and willing to talk about any concerns a student might have.”

Judy Shepard is scheduled to speak at the campus on January 23rd.

Stetson ‘hate crime’ victim arranges lecture on bigotry [daytona beach news-journal]
Stetson Student Targeted For Homosexuality [wesh]


  1. JIMMYBOYO says

    Universities do not contract out such repairs (painting doos). They have on site guys who do such small things.

    1 week to paint a door??? Not good.

    Though if I had been a student I would have done a counter offensive by painting the damn door myself and probably putting a big pink triangle and or Lambda sign covering up the offensive crap.

  2. Darren says

    At which point, the university would have charged you $100+ for having the door repainted because you defaced it.. *not saying it’s the wrong thing to do, I would have done it too*, but more than likely they were told it would be dealt with every day,and every day they got the brush off. Working at a college I have seen the “slackness” of staff happen all the time. I hope this student does well in his future endeavors and realizes not all the world feels this way.

  3. jimmyboyo says

    Yeah, darren.

    If I was a student $100+ (not a lot now) would be a ton of money.

    College days, where you learn how to stretch a few bucks on essentials to make sure you can buy beer.


  4. says

    Interesting. My parents both taught at Stetson in the School of Music from 1972 until their retirement in 2003, and I grew up in DeLand and had a lot of contact with the school, its students and faculty. It used to be a Southern Baptist school, but disaffiliated when the SB convention got taken over by odious right-wing conservatives.

    This surprises me since there were, and still are, tons of gay people at Stetson, both faculty and students, and I personally know many of the faculty from all divisions and many many gay and straight former students who’ve gone there.

    Knowing what and who I know, I think this was a hateful individual and not malice on the part of the University or its community.

    One of the reasons I say this is because the school had a huge memorial service for a gay music student who took his own life in his dorm room a couple of years ago. It was heavily attended and was a warm and lovely service with many students and faculty speaking on his behalf. NO demonstrators, either.

  5. Jeff says

    This kid will be way better off in New York — he’ll have a lot more fun and he can leave the cesspool of bigoted rednecks behind. In a couple of years it will all seem like a bad dream. I escaped from central Florida to the Northeast and haven’t looked back.

  6. Grego says

    Will’s stand is certainly causing some needed attention – good for him! Speaking of standing, Will looks to be over 6’5″, based on this photo angle, regardless, he stands tall

  7. Max says

    The “DEATH TO FAGS” graffiti was obviously directed at one individual, viz. Daly’s suite mate. That’s tantamount to a death threat. It should be investigated as such. If the culprit cannot be identified, the fact of a seriously conducted criminal investigation demonstrates more clearly than words the gravity of the crime. It could get the indifferent to think about the issue and the homophobic to think twice and regulate their unacceptable behavior.

  8. Dr. Pat says

    paying 10,000.00 to Judy are you right off your ballet pumps. I would have gladly spoke for the brotherhood. I think the truth of this article has been stretched just a tad. (remember the fish story) I think that you really didn’t want to attend this school (mommy and daddy made me or they wouldn’t pay).. I would suggest that you put your wrists in your pockets, take off the pink shirt and butch it up..

    It also reminds me of a story: A young guy goes in to a bar and drinks himself into a stupor, finding that he has no luck getting a date even well after last call he decideds to go into bushes on his way home. While on his way into the bushes he has the shit kicked out of him. After that he goes screaming off to the cops and then to every gay organization around. No One is interested…. Catch the point.

    Just a thought

    Dr. Pat.

  9. Mark Wise says

    Judy Shephard’s speech is getting quite a bit of local attention. The university expects a capacity crowd.

    Yes, Will is tall. I’d say at least 6’5″. (The Orlando Gay Chorus is performing at the speech, so Will visited our rehearsal last week.)

  10. John says

    Eh, it’s Florida, what did he expect walking around in a pink shirt and earrings?

    Despite the cute little Mickey Mouse hat, Florida is still as southern as any of the neighbors. Legally speaking, even middle-of-the-road Iowa and Nevada are far more progressive on homosexuality than Florida. Strip the glossy tourist propaganda aside, and we’re not talking about a particularly liberal state here.

  11. Matt La Victoire says

    When we were informed that Stetson University officials refused to let Will Daly take the stage to introduce Judy Shepard (presumably because he was leaving and because of the bad press they’d received), OGC just KNEW we had to honor him in some way and make his presence and courageos actions known at the event. You go, Will!!! We love you, man!

    Matt La Victoire

  12. William says

    While it’s been two years since this incident, it certainly haunts my life still to this day. I appreciated these comments when the story was first posted, and still appreciate them as I read this post now. New York City has certainly treated me well since my move, and I have since graduated culinary arts and restaurant management school in December 2009. Thank you to all who commented, re-posted, sent to friends, and “re-twitted” this post. And many thanks to Andy who took charge and posted this article on!

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