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Bias Incident

February 22, 2017

Dear campus community,

Earlier this week a threatening message of hate was scrawled on the wall of a bathroom in our library. It was a message meant to instill fear in members of our community and to divide us. And while we at Vassar believe in open discourse amongst all groups, let me be very clear about this disgraceful threat – it and any message of hate are incompatible with our values at Vassar and will not be tolerated.

I want to emphasize that this incident is being treated with the utmost seriousness. Our own Safety and Security department responded immediately, called in the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and has stepped up patrols in the area. Immediately that night the administration was notified and the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) called in. The following day administrators from the offices of the President, Dean of the College, Department of Safety and Security, and Communications met with representatives of the BIRT to determine an appropriate course of action. The Campus Life and Diversity office arranged today for contemplative gathering space at the ALANA Center.

Additional efforts to address this incident will continue across campus. Please email campuslife@vassar.edu  if you have ideas for programming or conversations that will help us move forward productively and in solidarity in the days and weeks to come.

Despite the wide-ranging response, I know this threat has left many of our community members feeling unsafe. That is unacceptable.

As law enforcement efforts continue, I want to say that we as a community must stand together, united in the face of those who would divide us. It is also important to remember that this incident is taking place at a time in our nation when many groups are feeling vulnerable – in fact, even under attack.

Whatever one might feel about the climate on a national level, however, we must be strong in our commitment that threatening, violent, and divisive speech will never be acceptable here.

Now more than ever we need to be clear that if you are a purveyor of hate speech, you will find no home at Vassar.

Sincerely,

Jon Chenette
Interim President