Revisiting the 2011 hate crime – Williams Alternative, courtesy of EphBlog

We’ve had several requests to link to a very polished audio piece by David Michael ’13 (hosted on the always thought-provoking EphBlog) questioning the events behind the racial slur found on Prospect’s fourth-floor bathroom in the fall of 2011. It’s definitely worth a listen:

http://ephblog.com/2015/01/19/prospect-racial-slur-was-probably-a-hoax/

Some questions worth discussing:

  • If you were an administrator, how would you have handled it differently? How would you frame the issue to a clearly agitated and upset student body?
  • What obligation do publishers of student opinion such as The Record have in providing a critical view of this hate crime and similar campus-wide events?
  • Do we think that policy designed since the event, such as bias incident task forces, has been effective and has significantly improved quality of life for the student body?
  • Do you think the school has a responsibility to inform students about developments in this and other investigations?
  • Looking forward, how do we handle future incidents like this rationally without jumping to conclusions?

3 thoughts on “Revisiting the 2011 hate crime – Williams Alternative, courtesy of EphBlog

  1. This was completely irresponsible on the administration’s part. They shut down classes and then, to cover themselves and not look ridiculous, chose to let students think that there was a crazy person running around campus instead of telling us the truth. Or, at least telling us that there was reason to doubt the original story.

    There is a reason that we are so eager to point to wall writings as “evidence” of prejudice… if we can’t put a face or name to the perpetrator, we can wrongly assume that the whole community is to blame. After all, the perpetrator could be any of us! Right?

    The next time an incident like this pops up, we all need to take a deep breath and ask critical questions before we look for some broad social claim about Williams being systematically “prejudiced”. Everyone here is obsessed with slogans and symbolic speech. They want to affirm their pre-set stereotypes instead of exercising skepticism. And they certainly don’t want to listen to ideas that contradict their worldview.

    If Charlie Hebdo had been published at Williams, it would have been shut down for “hate speech.” We are supposed to be the defenders of unpopular speech, but no one wants to hear an opinion that hurts their feelings. Many people thought this incident was a hoax three years ago, but no one was allowed to say it. Williams is supposed to be an environment where ideas are vigorously debated, whether they “offend” us or not. We are falling far short of that standard right now.

  2. There are many more questions worth asking as well: I’ll put them up:

    What did the administration know about the hate crime and when did they know it?

    Is there any additional information that the administration knows?

    Did the administrative staff build policy (Bias incident task force) and hire staff under false pretenses?

    Has this event been referenced by administrators as a true hate-crime with the knowledge that it was likely false?

    If the school legitimized threats against the safety and security of students, do they not have an obligation to inform them of developments such as this? Developments, that indicate there was no threat.

    Will the campus administration answer any of these questions in a forthright manner?

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