Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the hate crime in Prospect that shocked the College on Nov. 12, 2011. Last year, a student found the words “All n****ers must die” inscribed on a bathroom wall in Prospect. Two YouTube videos describing last year’s events and students’ reactions were sent to all students last Thursday to kickstart a week’s worth of discussion and reflection leading up to the anniversary of the hate crime on Sunday. On Sunday, Students Against Silence (SAS) teamed up with the Minority Coalition (MinCo) as well as other student groups to provide the College with a full day’s worth of events.
Sunday’s programming included a general Black Student Union meeting at 2 p.m.; a 4:30 p.m. event titled “Let Me Tell You a Short Story,” in which students were asked to converse with one another in groups of four in Dodd Living Room; a dinner catered by Lickety Split at 6 p.m.; a 7:30 p.m. discussion with the senior administration regarding the administration’s next steps in Goodrich Hall and an 11 p.m. “cleansing of the space” outside Prospect, where last year’s hate crime occurred.
According to Dean Bolton, Sunday’s programming remained largely unchanged after a student reported the words “All beaners must die” as written on the whiteboard outside her room in Mission on Saturday. However, the leadership concentrated on moving the community forward with the weekend’s incidents in mind.
“The goals of the programming were maintained in a profound way that included the reality of what we were all walking through that moment, which was unexpected,” Bolton said. “It continued the vision about the community’s ability and power in moving forward. That was not easy to do, but the students stuck to that and were determined not to ignore what happened but to weave it in a sense of forward motion.”
The culmination of the week’s events was the cleansing of the space. More than 50 students and faculty gathered outside of Prospect holding luminaries. There, they listened to three speakers – Maya Hawkins-Nelson ’14, Nick Fogel ’12 and Sumaya Awad ’16 – as they reflected on the progress that the College community has made since the hate crime occurred last year.
The gathering was intended to give students a chance to move forward from the hate crime. Chaplain to the College Rick Spalding ended the ceremony with a short speech about remembering the event and the community by making an intentional effort to be inclusive at the College. The students and faculty present then encircled Prospect with their luminaries.
“SAS and MinCo realized that there was never a time to heal over last year’s hate crime,” Carrie Tribble ’13, co-chair of MinCo, said. “The cleansing of the space was decided on as a way to move forward and provide students with a time to heal.”
“It was crucial that we did that. To mark that year was crucial,” Bolton said. “It was wonderful that the students saw that so far in advance and worked for a long time to make that happen.”
SAS, the student organization that developed out of last year’s hate crime, was the main sponsor and organizer of the events held over the weekend. Since its formation, SAS has worked on a variety of different tasks on campus. One of their subcommittees, The First-Year Experience Task Force, looked at how to improve the first-year transition to the College. Other subgroups have worked on projects that looked at ways to reinvigorate the Exploring Diversity Initiative in the curriculum.
Currently, the membership of SAS has dwindled due to the large number of its members who have either graduated or are spending this academic year abroad.
Long Dang ’15, SAS co-chair, said that despite the group’s small numbers, this year they will “continue to engage our community in conversations about difference, diversity and adversity so that we can learn from one another to improve as a campus.”