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Quinnipiac Students Discrinate Against "Orphans"

A request had been made by Lexie Gruber, a young person from CT, who has asked that we consider calling Quinnipiac University to ask that the video, “QU Tonight: Orphans Weekend” be taken down and a formal apology issued by the University to students who do not have parents. That includes students who have transitioned through the foster care system, and those whose parents have passed away.


Lexie described that the Quinnipiac, “Student Media decided to make a satire about students on campus without families, by following ‘Orphans’ around during Parents and Family Weekend.”

As you will note in the video, students without parents are depicted as emotionally immature – reaffirming many of the false and highly damaging stereotypes that are held against kids coming out of the DCF system. In addition to perpetuating stigma against students who experience mental health, cognitive, or substance use challenge.

Although the offensiveness may be unintended, Lexie describes that she, “was one of those ‘orphans’,” and there, “was nothing funny about my predicament, or the challenges faced by similar students.”

We agree with Lexie. The content of the video is offensive and does not contribute positively to the greater social dialogue.

One could even argue that the video violates the University Bias, Harassment and Discrimination Policy found on page 79 of the student handbook (

What can you do to support Lexie and other students who find themselves on campus without parents?

1) Call Quinnipiac’s President Lahey at (203) 582-8700
2) Call Quinnipiac’s Provost Thompson (203) 582-8914

We will be joining Lexie to demand an apology to students without parents on our campus and asking that the video be removed.

We will be going one step further and asking for a review of the Freshman Orientation and/or First Year Experience Curriculum for topics related to discrimination, equality, mental health and substance use, positive school climate, and positive youth development.

3 Replies to “Quinnipiac Students Discrinate Against "Orphans"”

  1. Dan says:

    I think this is an inadvertently offensive and insensitive video, but I don’t not believe the response is appropriate for the reasons bellow.

    I don’t buy the stigma argument. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m putting my own demographic as more difficult to live with than theirs, but when people make videos like this and stigmatize mental health, there is actual danger that the viewer will believe those with mental health problems are like those portrayed on screen. Then they act negatively towards people with mental health problems. No one is watching this video and thinking, “Yeah kids who have lost their parents are really are immature!” This is the only time I have ever heard of this stereotype. I can’t see there being enough societal support to make the vast majority accept this portrayal solely from the video. If anyone sees this video and acts negatively toward someone who has lost their parents, it’s probably just because they’re being a complete ass. Of course I have no lived experience, so if the immature stereotype is a belief that “a society or group of people” have, then let me know.

    I think this might have also be a semantic misunderstanding anyway. When I think of the word “orphan” I don’t think foster care, I think orphanages, Charles Dickens and the ragamuffins in Disney movies. I would never apply “orphan” to anyone who has lost their parents today because it has this old timey, storybook feeling . I would just say they lost their parents or they are in foster care.

    This definitely is a surprise punch in the gut among a long line of punches in the guts for people who have lost their parents. I had that experience many times as a student at CCSU with mental health. But nailing whoever’s responsible with this kind of action ultimately harms your cause. Save this response for the people who know better. Everyone is limited to their own perspective and personal experience, and will be offensive and insensitive without meaning to be.
    This looks like one of those cases, and I think it needs to be handled in a way that encourages people to change their mind. We are not fighting stigma, because stigma doesn’t exist on its own. We are trying to change the minds of people who hold views they probably don’t even realize are incorrect. You can’t beat stigma out of people you have to be understanding. Starting a big campaign for something like this makes people defensive, and they might never do it again but they won’t understand why it’s wrong, and probably harbor additional misgivings toward the group in question. This comes off as punishment for doing something wrong and it doesn’t encourage change, which is what is clearly needed.

    Instead of making this huge deal about this, maybe contact whoever’s personally involved and explaining in a nonjudgmental way why this is a problem. If they take it down that’s their decision, either way they will have more of an understanding of the problem and probably be more aware in the future. And if they do something like this again the response can be stronger. Honestly it’s a college run TV program on community television, who would have known it existed without this reaction. And asking for a public apology from the school is ridiculous. Schools are businesses, every time they make a public apology they lose students, credibility and money. This is absolutely a punishment for the school, and one that also fosters fear when faced with issues like this instead of understanding. I don’t know Quinnipiac’s track record, or if this is a long line of refusal to change that might make this action acceptable, but this video is not enough for the reaction.

  2. Sam B. says:

    I agree with Dan! I get where people are coming from but I think what you’re saying is extreme and reading way too much into it.

  3. torry22 says:

    Hi Everyone,

    As a foster child I am going to say that this doesn’t offend me like I think it does for some people. I believe the only thing really wrong with this video is that people weren’t educated and are acting immature, but I don’t think its trying to offend anyone at all. While I went to college and didn’t have parents to send me mail, care packages or come to my school and see me… I would have done anything to have that. I see that in this video, I see young adults craving the attention for people that they don’t have in their life. I understand where people may think they are being insensitive, but I think that wasn’t the message they were trying to send.

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