This past semester, the students at Vassar College have reported a series of hate speech being posted on campus. Messages such as “Hey Tranny, know your place” and other profane comments insulting a variety of minority groups were painted on campus, including on a student’s door. Vassar College takes incidents like this very seriously; they have a committee called Bias Incident and Response Team (BIRT) specifically designed to respond to incidents such as this. As stated on their website, after an incident of bias occurs, “the Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life will convene the BIRT team within 24 hours or as soon as possible to determine initial steps and to identify additional offices or members from the campus community who can assist with the college’s response to the incident or situation being addressed”.
On November 13th, 2013, the
students received an eMail reporting these repeated incidents and assuring the
campus community that the BIRT team was working to address the situation as
quickly as possible. Six days later, on November 19th, another eMail
was sent out. The following is an excerpt from this second letter:
It is our unfortunate duty to report that two Vassar students have
admitted responsibility for creating a number of recent bias and hate-speech
messages in public spaces on campus. They also falsely reported these as
At the same time, it was noted by several students that
one of the members of BIRT had resigned. Further questioning from concerned
students and the Daily Caller
revealed an ugly truth. Genesis Hernandez, a transgendered, minority student
who served as a member of the Bias Incident and Response Team as well as the
Vice President of Student Life, was one of the two students responsible for the
falsified hate speech. This shocking news is now being covered by major news
sources such as Fox News.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time this year that
Vassar has been in the news
regarding issues of discrimination and bias. Earlier this year, a student named
Peter Yu sued the school, claiming that gender discrimination led to his
expulsion. In February of 2012, Yu and fellow classmate Mary Claire Walker had
sex. Yu claims that it was a consensual act, and the first time he had ever
engaged in sexual intercourse. Friends of Yu claim that afterwards, Walker
bragged to other students about how she had taken his virginity. She also sent
him a message on Facebook to tell him that she “had a wonderful time”.
A year after their night together, Walker reported to the
school that what had occurred that night was actually rape. According to Vassar's policies policies, “Any
charge of Rape requires concurrent charges of Sexual Abuse and Aggravated
Sexual Abuse. The minimum sanction for Rape is immediate suspension for the
remainder of the current semester and the entirety of the following semester.
More serious sanctions may include, but are not limited to, immediate expulsion
from the college”. Based on Walker’s allegations, Peter Yu was expelled.
Yu is now suing the school, claiming
that male students who are accused of sexual crimes are “invariably”
found guilty. At the time of his expulsion, he had a 3.8 GPA and was in good
standing with the school. He argues that the evidence against him is weak and
that the process Vassar used to handle the matter was unjust. At the hearing in
March, he was not allowed to have a lawyer present.
Based solely on the evidence, it
seems that the case against Peter Yu is shaky at best. What makes matters worse
is that his accuser is the daughter of a university employee. Mary Claire
Walker’s father, Jeffrey R. Walker, has been a professor at the school for several years.
Cases such as this are overseen by the Sexual and Violence Prevention Committee (SAVP), which is made up of a
combination of faculty and students. One of the student members on this year’s committee
is Genesis Hernandez, whose name is still listed on the webpage. The
SAVP has a diagram on its webpage that describes the process for reporting sexual misconduct. The
diagram was created by Imani Wong, the girlfriend of Genesis Hernandez.
Although Vassar has not officially reported the name of the second perpetrator
of the bias, leaked records of discussions among members of the Vassar Student Association state that she is, in fact, the
second actor in this hoax. Like Genesis, Imani has also left the school. If
people who can commit such devious, fraudulent acts are on these committees,
how can students trust that they will be treated fairly? The simple answer is
that they cannot.
The falsified bias incidents at
Vassar College have highlighted a very real problem of bias on the campus. This
bias is not toward women or transgendered people or any of the other groups
“targeted” by the falsified hate speech. It is toward the men and the white
students at the school, the students who are perpetually cast as the villains,
even when they have committed no crime. Genesis and Imani obviously didn’t
think the school would suspect transgendered, minority, or female students of
writing such horrible things about the groups of which they themselves are a
part. They were attempting to frame an entire demographic group by making
themselves appear victimized. If all that is required of a woman is a
declaration of rape for a man to be punished, what is to stop any bitter ex
girlfriend from doing great harm to her former lover? The school does not
appear to have a handle on this bias, as students who are falsifying hate
speech are chosen to serve on committees meant to protect people from these
very actions. To maintain its integrity as a fair institution, Vassar must take
this issue very seriously and investigate how widespread this discrimination is
**Note- This article is cross-posted on Watchdog Wire at: http://watchdogwire.com/pennsylvania/2013/12/09/the-war-on-men-at-vassar-college/