By Donalevan Maines
Police at the University of Houston-Downtown (UH-D) this week launched a criminal investigation into the distribution of fliers that targeted the sexual orientation and HIV-positive status of a gay activist who plans to run for vice president of the student body.
On one side of the fliers was an “X” over a photograph of junior Kristopher Sharp, 23, beneath the caption “WANT AIDS?” and above the message, “DON’T SUPPORT THE Isaac and Kris HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA.”
On the other side was a copy of a medical record that identified his HIV status as positive, said Sharp. He believes the document was stolen from the second floor office of UH-D’s Student Government Association (SGA), in which Sharp currently serves as a senator.
Sharp explained that he and “running mate” Isaac Valdez are preparing to seek the offices of vice president and president. respectively. Voting takes place April 15-19 for next year’s SGA positions. The pair met all the qualifications, such as gathering the required number of signatures, but the campaign won’t begin until after the April 5 deadline for filing and the assistant dean of students certifies the candidates.
Sharp said he hadn’t seen the flier until the dean of students, Tommy Thomason, called him to his office on Tuesday morning and showed it to him.
“I was devastated,” said Sharp. “I knew that my sexuality could be under attack, because that is an easy target.” However, he was shocked that his HIV status would be exposed.
“Now everybody knows,” said Sharp.
Claire Caton, director of media relations for the downtown campus, said both sides of the flier are equally disturbing to the school’s administration.
“We don’t tolerate any discrimination,” she said. “We take very seriously any student’s rights being violated. Diversity is a cornerstone of our university.”
Caton said that the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting, in which Thomason informed Sharp of the flier, was to gather information for campus police to conduct a criminal investigation.