Sergio Espinosa ’02, Judd Greenstein ’01 and Peter Munoz ’02 were talking on campus grounds at around one in the wee hours of Saturday night. After the three went to Subway to get food, they walked to Chapin Hall, where they sat on the benches in Hunt Plaza. From this central area, Sergio, Judd and Peter could watch their peers travel to and fro from party to party.
About ten minutes after settling down in Hunt Plaza, someone noticed that there were two noticeably drunk students passing along Baxter Hall. One of the students had taken the “Whose Responsibility Is It?” wooden post sign and proceeded to deliberately smash it against the sidewalk. In between the first and second smashes, one of the three on the bench shouted, “Hey!” The student with the sign reacted by dropping the sign and then mumbling something underneath his breath, while the other student began his response which was dominated with alternating remarks of “shut the f— up” to “what are you looking at, you f—ing dildos?” The light from Chapin and the Frosh squad glared down on the Hunt Three, rendering the two drunks indistinguishable, covered in shadow.
The two intoxicated students continued to move on walking into the frosh quad virtually invisible by the night shadows. The three moved on into conversation and laughing ensued. The more violently vocal of the two vandals assumed the conversation and laughter was concerning him, so he became full of rage and continued to yell out obscenities from the dark, such as: “yea, keep laughing you f—king dildos” from behind the cloak of night. After a couple minutes, the more vocal of the intoxicated two, walked into Hunt Plaza, in front of Sergio, Judd and Peter and began to spit out obscenity after obscenity for over five minutes.
The three on the bench sat dumbfounded in utter shock after the insult-riddled diatribe (peppered with threats) came to a conclusion.
Peter Munoz ’02
John Rocker on Campus?
“Shooting from the Hip.”
My two friends and I met such a man over the weekend.
“Social responsibility for what?”
He provided his own answer: “that you’re a f—king dildo?!”
Some people go to the opera, or museums to get “cultured.”
I sat outside the frosh quad and ate my sub.
A foreign culture came to me that night. To put it more accurately: an extraordinary breed of person that I do not expect to encounter as a fellow College student.
He lacked respect for what others invested time, energy, and creativity, on top of money, to create.
He, after a couple of drinks, displayed a hate for almost anything. He stood there, searching us for anything and everything he could constantly insult us with.
The fact that it’s Queer Pride week didn’t stop him from uttering homophobic slander.
He came up to us repeatedly calling us “f—king dildos,” while we remained dumbfounded, never cursing at him once.
One minute he’s cursing us for thinking we’re so smart, then two seconds later he’s talking about how stupid we are and how sorry he feels for us (which he classically crowned with a “you might as well be at Amherst”).
He took himself to be an expert on certain things, empowering himself with the claim that “he could kick each one of our asses.” According to his expertise, we were “at best juniors” and that we should go back to Greylock.
After saying hi to a couple of passing cars filled with his buddies, he chastised us for being losers and not “knowing the people” like he does.
He felt so self-righteous as to comment on my friend’s jacket.
He even threw an “and you’re fat” at us.
Raised in the inner city, I am not surprised when I come across senseless acts of destruction and violent confrontations.
But we’re not in New York City.
This is Williamstown, Mass.
This is Williams College.
Sergio Espinosa ’02
I am still dumbfounded, even after several days of contemplating on the chain of events that transpired on Saturday night. My first reaction was anger. I think I am alone in feeling that I was personally attacked. My initial instinct towards the anonymous assailants verbal attacks would have been to strike back. If others were not there with me, the incident could have results in physical conflict. However, after I got after the initial sensation of anger, I began to see the mass hilarity and comedic drama unfolding. Here, was a peer, supposedly an intelligent, fully cognitive person, playing the role of a Shakespearean clown. But this incident is far bigger than my emotional reaction to the assailant.
Personally, a see his actions as fitting the label “unbecoming of a Williams student.” This anonymous figure was the worst of Williams. He fit every horrible, hyperbolized stereotype that can be placed on a Williams student.
Going into Saturday, I was full of college pride seeing CNN laud Williams as a great example of American higher education. And now there is this image of Williams, juxtaposed next to the more fond pictures of Williams in my memory, I have become very confused as how to view the school and my fellow schoolmates.This past weekend I was telling a pre-frosh how one of Williams’ selling points was how safe the Purple Valley is (or was). Today, I do not feel that I can make that blanket statement any longer.
I have been trying to come to grips with how this incident deals with larger questions on campus. Personally I hold on to the belief that this young man is a great anomaly. However, there are others here that may have problems and have never had to confront them. We, at Williams, are always tackling issues of particular groups or ideas, but I think we need to give some consideration to the treatment of humanity as a whole. Whatever happened to random acts of kindness?
Judd Greenstein ’01
For me, the two boys (they are not men in my eyes) whom we encountered provide the perfect illustration of the contrast between people who are working to better the community and people who are, for lack of a better term, “the problem.” At every forum or discussion that I’ve attended about issues related to the Williams community, there’s always an implicit understanding that the people in the room are not the people who need to hear what’s being said. The question of how to address the “other half” of the campus always comes up, and it’s generally a question that simply remains on the table, unanswered.
I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the “Whose Responsibility Is It?” campaign, for a variety of reasons. One objection I have is that it merely continues this trend of addressing the people who are willing to be addressed. I’m sure there are hundreds of students who think it’s a stupid question to be asking, or who would be willing to provide answers that might seem shocking or at least unacceptable to the people who organized the campaign. But when one witnesses the commotion caused by each scribbling on the wall that objects to the mainstream of ideas, one has to recognize that many people are, for whatever reason, dismissive of the campaign.
In a very real way, these boys are representative of this segment of the Williams community that consistently avoids issues of social responsibility. To ignore problems in society is to act in favor of the status quo. Smashing a sign that encourages consideration of those problems demonstrates a blatant disregard for everyone who considers the issues to be important. While it is almost certainly true that the drunken boy who smashed the sign had no idea what he was smashing, it is also true that if he was engaged with the issues that the sign represented, he never would have considered destroying it.
The sign asked “Whose responsibility is it?” and could very well have been asking about our verbal assailant. Whose responsibility is he? As with all incarnations of this question, there’s no easy answer. But I’m at least somewhat glad that the other side of Williams College now has a face, and that I no longer have to hide behind abstract generalizations when fighting for change in my community.
We all acknowledge that this boy acted inappropriately. But unless we recognize that our apathy and acceptance of apathy in others is largely to blame, there is every reason to believe that encounters such as ours will continue to occur. While it is not our responsibility alone, we must take responsibility for the members of our community, one of whom was the boy who called me “dildo.” He emerged from the night, from the depths of the Pub, and showed me why the question of responsibility is sometimes one worth asking.