Michael Smalanskas, of Holden, Massachusetts, is a senior at Providence College — a Dominican Catholic college in Providence, Rhode Island — studying to become a teacher. He is a resident advisor to his dormitory Saint Joseph’s Hall.
On March 1, Smalanskas posted on the bulletin board in his dorm a defense of traditional and Catholic marriage. After he displayed his message, Smalanskas has been threatened by unknown parties with a cartoon of homosexual rape.
“After posting the board, I immediately became a target,” says Smalanskas. “The board was vandalized, groups were congregating outside my room and I was being attacked on social media.” Within hours of the board’s completion, campus security knocked on Smalanskas’s door, concerned for his safety. They temporarily relocated him to another dorm for the night, leaving his belongings behind.
On the afternoon of March 14, security contacted Smalanskas at the college book store, where he works, to warn him of a threatening cartoon found in the bathroom of the dormitory. The cartoon depicts Smalanskas as the victim of an apparently violent rape, with his attacker saying, “Mike, what did I say about putting your sign up?”
According to Smalanskas, Providence College “has done nothing to deny that [the traditional-marriage board] is hate speech or clearly denounce the violent and malicious actions that have taken place. Instead, college officials have encouraged students to march against homophobia, which is how my bulletin board is being construed.”
Smalanskas is asking the Catholic college “to affirm the Catholic mission of the school and to protect the freedom to express [Catholic] beliefs.”
Providence College responded Thursday afternoon to The Current’s inquiry as follows: “The incident in question is under investigation. The College will not comment on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.”