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Second bias incident

February 24, 2017

Dear Campus Community,

Overnight a second disturbing racist message was found in our library – on a wall down a staircase off the front entry. As before, our Safety & Security Department responded immediately, secured the scene, and summoned Town of Poughkeepsie Police, who in turn called in a detective from home to spearhead the investigation. As before, our own Vassar response team was immediately assembled and began to address steps we can take, some of which are detailed here. Further, Vassar is looking into what resources we can provide to bolster the investigation of these two incidents.

As part of the Vassar response, the Bias Incident Response Team was notified. An initial incident summary is available online.

These messages of hate are abhorrent, and Vassar College will do everything in its power to apprehend whomever is responsible. That said, as I wrote earlier this week when the first incident took place, as a community we need to come together to denounce these acts.

On a very real level, I understand that these incidents will have had a significant impact on many of you. Together with the Acting Dean of the Faculty Steve Rock, I have already reached out to faculty this morning to ask them to be sensitive to students feeling vulnerable because of these incidents and to guide students to work with their class advisor in the Dean of Studies Office to seek academic counseling or relief if needed.

I and fellow administrators Chris Roellke, Adriana di Bartolo, Ed Pittman, Wendy Maragh Taylor, and the Dean of Studies Office will also be holding special office hours from noon to 2 pm today. We encourage students to stop by our offices during this time to discuss steps the College can take, or simply to share their feelings.

At times such as these it is all too easy to feel powerless – as though there is nothing we can do to combat such despicable acts. But I say no. No, we will not allow a coward who scrawls anonymous messages on bathroom walls to intimidate us. No, we will not allow messages of hate to mislead us into thinking that those around us share these beliefs. No, we will not allow ignorance and hatred to prevail. Instead I am hopeful, as I wrote in my last message, that we will stand together as a community and stand up to those who would divide us. We are a community that is not just diverse, but that understands that our diversity is one of the things that defines us, that makes us the vibrant, challenging, fascinating, and inspiring place we are. And no small-minded provocateur can take that away from us.

Sincerely,

Jon Chenette
Interim President