Sunday, December 8, 2013

The War on Men at Vassar College

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 tothe 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 anonymous messages.

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 on campus.

**Note- This article is cross-posted on Watchdog Wire at: http://watchdogwire.com/pennsylvania/2013/12/09/the-war-on-men-at-vassar-college/

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