A Message From the President on a Bias Incident

Dear all,

I am writing to acknowledge the incident of the white supremacist group’s name (KKK) being scrawled in a slate walkway on campus. Given the deep history of anti-black racism and also the recent acts of anti-black violence in this country, I want to reinforce the importance of speaking out against the hate that such groups propagate. White supremacist propaganda—stickers, leaflets, graffiti—have appeared before and are unacceptable on this campus.

The KKK is a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic organization. I condemn their hateful symbols and the white supremacy for which they stand. Let me underscore that threatening and racist behavior will not be tolerated on the Vassar campus.

Students found the scrawling last evening and reported it to the Dean of College and me. Last night, Vassar’s Safety & Security found and removed the markings and investigated the incident immediately. Vassar's Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) has assessed that this is a bias incident, and we offered support to those who found and reported the incident. In an effort to ensure the safety of all our campus community members, we have increased Vassar Safety & Security patrol over the course of this week, and will assess if that is needed for a longer period of time.

I am asking for your assistance. If anyone has information about the recent markings or people involved, please contact Safety & Security immediately at (845) 437-5221.

If you need to talk with someone, please reach out to the Counseling Service during regular business hours at (845) 437-5700. Dean Alamo and I are also available to meet with anyone and can be emailed directly at CaAlamo@Vassar.edu or EBradley@vassar.edu. When we come back together as a campus, I look forward to having more discussion about these events and how we can address them as a community.

Given all that is happening in the nation and world, the Bias Education and Support Team (BEST) will provide a space for students, especially those that remain on campus, to reflect and find support. Join us tomorrow at 5pm on Zoom. The meeting will be hosted by BEST members Luis Inoa (Associate Dean of the College for Student Living and Wellness), Wendy Maragh Taylor (Association Dean of the College for Student Growth and Engagement), and Sam Speers (Associate Dean for Religious and Spiritual Life & Contemplative Practices).

To sign up for this gathering, please RSVP.

Here is some background on BEST. In an effort to proactively address incidents that impact campus climate, the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) recommended that the Bias Education and Support Team (BEST) be constituted in the Spring of 2020.

  • BIRT reviews all incidents to determine four essential questions: Is the act protected speech/expression? Is there a violation of state law? Is there a violation of campus policy? Is this a bias incident?
  • After BIRT makes a determination, BEST works to support the individual reporting the incident and to consider a range of institutional/educational responses.

Please continue to take care of yourself and each other.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604