University student reports property damage by roommate after coming out as gay

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 9:46pm

Business senior Matthew Mansour has reported to the Ann Arbor Police Department and University of Michigan authorities that he has been harassed and discriminated against by his roommates after coming out as gay several weeks ago on social media.

Mansour, who lives in Landmark, said his roommates had been threatening him and his therapy dog ever since they’d discovered they would be living with the emotional support animal, and this manifested in them urinating in the dog’s water bowl and verbally abusing it.

“I came out on social media on National Coming Out Day, and it was kind of difficult, but I had a lot of support from my community and friends.” Mansour said. “But the next day I was packing for Fall Break, (my roommate) came home, started banging on the wall and screaming, ‘All gays go to hell.’ He was using gay slurs and made some disgusting, homophobic comments. This happened that night and I was really afraid, and I left to Denver for fall break.”

While Mansour was away he had a friend come in to pick something up from the apartment, where she found $680 worth of his belongings — including his kitchenware and his dog supplies — were missing.

“Everything was gone,” Mansour said. “We found out that it had been thrown out the window. My bedroom door had knife marks all over it. He had a knife and he was trying to get into my room by stabbing the door and stabbing the handle.”

Mansour believes one of his roommates was the main perpetrator, though there were co-conspirators. That roommate says his friend caused most of the damage and was the one who destroyed Mansour’s belongings. After the incident, Mansour attempted to bring the situation up with both University officials and AAPD, but didn’t receive the response he was looking for.

“I reported it to the University, and I reported it to the police and filed a report,” he said. “And the University hasn’t been engaging with or shedding light on this issue. They basically told me this was an off-campus event, and that they’re not making a statement. To me that’s bullshit. We’re both University of Michigan students, we’re both paying tuition to this school and above that, we’re representing U of M, and these actions can’t be tolerated by U of M students.”

CSG Rep. Yara Gayar, an LSA senior who is a friend of Mansour’s, stated she believes the University should have looked further into what happened and supported Mansour throughout the situation.

“It’s very discouraging to hear a board that speaks so highly about these values that the University wishes to be true to clearly not put them into practice,” Gayar said. “I’m just disappointed. Maybe (the Office for Institutional Equity) isn’t the right space for this, but regardless, if they state that they want to uphold these values I don’t think it matters whether this took place on on-campus or off-campus grounds. It’s an incident that’s not even a one-day incident — it’s been ongoing and it’s between two current University students.”

Mansour filed a request at the Washtenaw County Circuit Court for a personal protection order against the roommate he considers the main instigator. Though a judge denied his request, the decision is being reconsidered at a hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

“These University students will one day be alumni and they will be representing the University of Michigan,” Gayar said. “People who involve themselves in these kind of actions are not people I think the University wants representing them. I would like to see some serious pressure on these students and not some kind of ‘hey, don’t do this again’ slap on the wrist. The knife slashes were definitely a threat — if we’re taking other types of threats seriously, why aren’t we doing the same with this one?”

Gayar is working with other CSG representatives to support Mansour and ensure that incidents like this don’t happen again.

“We’re trying to get as many people as possible from student government to show up to his hearing at 1:30, to show support in the courtroom for Matthew,” Gayar said. “We’re working on language right now for the codes, and the repercussions students will have to face when they conduct themselves in such a manner and participate in such attacks and bias incidents on campus. We’re working on trying to get some serious consequences on the ground, but this could be a very long process because there’s a lot that we have to go through, but I definitely think it’s worth it.”

Mansour said while Landmark served his roommate a 30-day eviction, the housing complex wasn’t taking enough action and that by the time legal recourse was taken, the semester would be over and he still wouldn’t have a place to live. He was offered emergency housing by the University, but stressed it wouldn’t be a solution as he would have to move back into a residence hall room, which wouldn’t be possible because of his therapy animal.

Mansour tried talking to Counseling and Psychological Services and it also only offered to help him find housing.

“Having to lose my space and having to move out of my apartment is so unfair,” he said. “It seems like my roommates are nonchalantly like, ‘Oh, OK, Matthew’s just not coming back to the apartment.’ They’re not living on a friend’s couch, out of a backpack and they don’t not have their emotional support animal with them. I’m the one that’s suffering the consequences of their actions, and it’s been stressful.”

Gayar expressed she believes the distinction between on and off campus is arbitrary, especially when all parties involved are University students, and that students who harass and threaten other students should face serious repercussions.

“They’re basically trying to divert the situation by saying that it’s off campus and essentially not their problem,” Gayar said. “It could have been considered off campus if this occurred on South U by Espresso Royale and not South U by the UGLi — that’s a 500-foot, maybe 600-foot, space. One is considered on campus, one is considered off campus and the location that you’re in shouldn’t designate the kind of action that’s taken against a student who is discriminating, hurting and attacking you. The University should hold students responsible and stop making excuses.”

Neither University spokespeople nor AAPD were available for response. The Detroit News reported a University spokesman declined to comment due to this being an off-campus matter. While The Daily was unable to obtain the record at the time of publication, the case was made official on the Washtenaw County Circuit Court's docket earlier this month.