Open Letter from Diego Palma to Mrs. Rovira

Dear Mercedes Rovira,

I am writing this letter with deep sadness after reading your statements to the press in which you affirm that homosexuality is an “anomaly” just like “finding a four-leaf clover” and that sexual orientation is something the Universidad de Montevideo takes into consideration before hiring faculty members.

I earned my Bachelor’s Degree from the Universidad de Montevideo five years ago. It is an institution I have great respect and affection for. As a student there, I made great friends, met very smart people (religious and non-religious) and can say with full certainty that the university has played a crucial role in my professional career and personal life.

If you had been the President of the university in 2003, the year I began my undergraduate studies, and had made those remarks in the media, I would probably have chosen a different institution and missed a life experience that I will always consider positive and fulfilling.

I am writing these words firstly as a former student. With your statements you not only show disrespect to your students and the alumni, you are also disrespecting Uruguayan society and damaging the university image and its credibility. Your remarks to the press are not only offensive, unintelligent and anachronistic but they are also evidence of illegal discriminatory practices that should not be tolerated in our country.

Moreover, your words prompt other uncomfortable questions: What type of sophisticated system does the university use to differentiate straight from gay professors? Do you use the same criteria for other minorities?  Does the same logic apply to choosing your students and administrative staff?

If like you said, homosexuality is like “finding a four-leaf clover”, the Universidad de Montevideo has had, does have and will always have lots of luck.  Maybe you haven’t noticed, because we all live in our own bubbles, but the next time you walk down the halls of the university you now lead, take a look around and you will find students, professors and staff that are offended by your comments.

It happens I also worked in the university teaching film editing. When the university hired me nobody asked about my sexual orientation, or if I liked vanilla ice cream rather than chocolate. Either the system failed or someone just forgot to ask.

Any serious university should choose their students based on their potential, and the faculty based on their professional and academic qualifications. Any other variable that doesn’t address the question of how talented you are or how far you would like to go, should be out of the equation.  Anything else is simply pure discrimination.

As the head of a university, you should know more than anyone that diversity is a source of knowledge, richness and learning. To deny it is to deny the very essence of human nature.

Yours sincerely,
Diego Palma

Class of 2003, Bachelor of Communication, Universidad de Montevideo


Original Spanish version of the letter here