Letter to the Editor

In response to the letter of Melissa Green, Class of 1978 and Megan Tallmer, Class of 1973, we share their understanding that all acts of bias may begin as private incidents, but almost always generate public impact – not only for the targeted group, but for the entire campus community. Such acts cannot be tolerated in a learning environment like ours–or anywhere else.

Unfortunately their summary does not accurately reflect the campus response, and we write to remind the many people who care about Vassar that we approach every reported bias incident with the utmost seriousness, diligence, and focused attention and action.” What follows is a brief summary of the actions BIRT and our campus partners took in response to this incident.

Following an agreed-upon protocol between BIRT and Residential Life, a Not in My House message was sent to house residents on April 14. The purpose of such a message is to first support those who may have been most impacted by a bias incident and to also respect the privacy of any individual student(s) involved. During this time, various administrators were also in conversation with the reporting student and other impacted students to provide necessary support. We were also considering what impact a broader message would have on the campus community. On April 18, BIRT did, in fact, send an email to the campus community, alerting everyone to the swastika incident. Like all BIRT messages sent to the campus community, it does not mention specific details about the incident. We leave out such details in order to name the incident publicly without further compounding the potential harm it may inflict on either the individuals directly involved or the wider campus community. This approach reflects the difficult but necessary balance our work requires. The campus-wide message concluded with a strong message to the community: “Vassar College strives to provide educational, working, and living environments free from discrimination, harassment, intolerance, and hate. Such behavior will not be tolerated.”

And indeed it will not be tolerated. Through BIRT’s work and that of other offices, including the President, Vassar is taking decisive action to investigate, eradicate and adjudicate any offensive messages toward any member of our community.

—Edward Pittman ‘82
Associate Dean of the College
Bias Incident and Response Team Coordinator 

Luis Inoa
Assistant Dean of Students
Director of Residential Life 



BIRT members:
Christopher Brown, Student Association Vice President for Student Life
D.B. Brown, Dean of Students
Kerry Chaplin, Director for Jewish Life and Assistant Director for Religious and Spiritual Life
Wendy Freedman, Director of Psychological Services
Luis Inoa, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life
Jeff Kosmacher, Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs
Andrew Meade, Assistant Dean for Campus Life; Director of International Services
B. Nathan, Director for the Campus Life ALANA Center
Rachel Pereira, Director for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
Dallas Robinson, Post Baccalaureate Fellow, Campus Life LGBTQ and Women’s Centers
Sam Speers, Assistant Dean for Campus Life;Director of Religious and Spiritual Life
Kim Squillace, Associate Director of Safety and Security

Learn more about BIRT:
http://campuslifeanddiversity.vassar.edu/birt/

2 Comments

  1. Dear Staff
    .
    You seem to have had a coordinated plan for event. And thanks for spelling it out. However you’re dammed if you do, dammed if you do even more and dammed if you do even everything tims infinity. Cause you and the students are just pawns by the right wing pro-Israeli apologists.
    .
    In waspy institutional america and Vassar no one is going to step up for you when the smear fest by right wing pro Israeli “victims” starts. And they know it. Until social media came along they had a field day with such smearing.
    .
    This incident or any other is used as propaganda by right wing pro Israeli organizations to pretend that BDS and other Palestinian speakers are the cause for such. Even though it has almost never been proven. In fact many a time with electronic surveillance and other measure when the perpetrators have been caught, the results have been rather surprising and cynical.
    .
    For wealthy victim alumni even a group of coloreds protesting Israeli apartheid is a national security Event. So you can imagine how such “victims” such as Ms. Tallmer and Ms Green are going to milk this event.
    .
    Then they’ll prolly submit this it to the professional racist right wing organizations like the Amcha Initiave, Stand With Us, so that those organizations can milk it further. There is even a new initiative called the Canary project which many suspect is directly funded by the Israeli govt., which creates and publishes black lists of pro Palestinian speakers.
    .
    Just imagine for a moment, if a SJP chapter created such a web site with a foreign govt.
    .
    Anything to cover up Israeli Apartheid.
    ,
    Amen and Thanks

  2. “Just imagine for a moment, if a SJP chapter created such a web site with a foreign gov”

    If you’re referring to Canary Mission, let me know your evidence that the web site was created with a foreign government.

    As far as SJP, the entire movement is led by a foreign entity and funded heavily by people in the Middle East, as well as Americans who’ve raised money for Hamas in the past, so I’m not sure what your point is.

    Two people writing a letter to the Misc is hardly milking a swastika incident at Vassar. Perhaps you can detail what work you’ve done, Raj, to fight antisemitism on campus and to make sure that no one is victimized by hate crimes like these.

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