Trigger Warning: This piece is response to an opinion piece that contains potentially triggering language about sexual assault, ableism, and racism, some of which is quoted within.
Dear Julian Hassan and MICA,
Let me try and help you understand why what you wrote is at worst hate speech (a bias incident), and at best unintelligent, ignorant and hypocritical. First, let’s define a bias incident so we’re all on the same page. According to the College rules and regulations, “A bias incident is characterized as a behavior or act—verbal, written, or physical——which is personally directed against or targets an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, or age” (Vassar College Regulations for 13/14, article VII, subsection B). So, for instance, an opinion piece which claims that ableism is a “non-issue” can easily be interpreted as implying that discrimination against disabled people either isn’t happening or doesn’t matter. Wikipedia defines ableism as “a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities.” Arguably, both of those implications therefore constitute a social prejudice against disabled people.
That you dare imply that false rape charges were used to kick Peter Yu out of Vassar because he’s a Republican is a clear indication of how empty-hearted and ignorant you are to the suffering of survivors of sexual assault. The real reason you feel marginalized is because we do hear you. I’m sick and tired of trying to have an intelligent discussion with people who cannot hold one. People are tired of hearing your classist and racist ideas. We understand your views; they’re just too far removed from reality to even engage. Ayn Rand is hardly taken seriously by anyone in the philosophical community so far as I know. At best, Rand’s views are blatantly hypocritical given that she was on both Social Security and Medicare in her later life. Evidently she couldn’t pull herself up by her bootstraps. It’s also worth mentioning that you’re essentially asking the school and the VSA for redress. What happened to individual agency?
You seem to be under the impression that you are a strict adherent of facts. I find this pretty weird since the ideas Epstein espouses (and that you in turn clearly endorse) are completely counterfactual. His beliefs that climate change is a hoax (an opinion that is about as respected in the scientific community as Holocaust denial is in the historian community) and that the burning of fossil fuels is good for the environment (because, to paraphrase, “the countries that burn the most fossil fuels have the cleanest environments”) are so foolish it probably suffices itself to provide a single counter example.
Apparently, Epstein has forgotten that China, one of the world’s leaders in energy consumption, is also famous for its high pollution levels. In case you were not aware, correlation is not causation. Climate change denial has been so shredded in recent years I don’t even know where to begin.
As you said, “If you subvert facts, you do not achieve your values; you become a fake. How can anyone expect an effective dialogue from this?” You also write, “students shrug because they object to values and demands without evidence.” Yet you claim “there is no culture of oppression at Vassar.” You speak about why ‘the students’ feel the way you do; but given that you “bristle when [you] see a poster asking in scare-quotes, ‘Is Your Halloween Costume Racist?’” I think you might be on your own.
Although I do love reading your opinion pieces (this is not sarcastic), I think you should stop blaming the “system” for failure to be taken seriously by everyone who is not in MICA, and perhaps look within. Good luck.
—Robert Ronan ’15 is a math major.