In Other Ivory Towers: Bard College at Simon’s Rock

Lucy Walker

In Other Ivory Towers is the Record’s look at colleges and universities outside the Purple Bubble.

A month after a female student of color reported being attacked on the campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, the Berkshire County District Attorney’s office said in a recent statement that it has found inconsistencies in the student’s report.

On Sept. 27, the student reported being knocked unconscious and dragged into the woods, later waking up with cuts on her torso and clothing. This incident occurred following an apparently unrelated series of racist and antisemitic incidents at Bard, including racist graffiti found on a chalkboard and a swastika found carved into a bathroom stall. 

The reported attack caused panic on campus, and Bard canceled all classes for the week. Several students went home due to safety concerns, and one professor resigned because of what she perceived to be a mishandling of several hate-related incidents. 

However, investigators have now found several inconsistencies with the story of the alleged victim. For one, no dirt or debris was found on the clothes or body of the student, despite her report that she was dragged through the woods. Additionally, the cuts on the studentcs clothing did not align with the cuts on her body, and she had no defensive injuries. The investigators found no medical explanation for her unconsciousness, nor was any evidence discovered of an attacker in the area.

 Due to a lack of surveillance cameras on campus, Bard administrators and police have had to respond to the incident amidst rising concern from the college’s students, 40 percent of whom are students of color. 

Bard has agreed to several demands from its Black Student Union, including an increase in surveillance cameras on campus, though Bard has not indicated when those cameras will be installed. Local police and campus security have increased patrols, and the college has launched its own investigation independent of law enforcement.