Last year I speculated that the most prominent racial incident in the 2004-2005 school year might not have happened. (See here for a recent summary.) Turns out that the event did happen. David Rivera (the other witness besides Rondelle Trinidad) tells the story.

I was going towards Schow Library, Ron was comming back. We started talking as a large group of drunk people passed us by. At one point Ron started talking about this facebook group called “Clinton for Dictator”. At that point a drunk strageler began to take a piss between the area between Morgan and Jesup, piing on the Jesup part. After Ron mentioned the group I cracked a joke saying: “Well, I rather have Clinton for dictator than Bush for President”. A second later the drunk guy screamed at me: “Fuc-k you, N*” Since I had little knowledge about the conotation of the word I responded: “I’m not a N*”. Then he said: “Oh okay”. Then he started walking towards us. Once he got to us he kept looking at us and Ron asked him: “Can we help you?”. That I recall, he didnt respond to that. Then Ron and I started speaking Spanish and he responded by speaking “Mock Spanish”, speaking spanish for the sake of demeaning the language, and walked away.

Ron sent a letter to Shapiro saying how wrong that was and then posted a blog in WSO. In the latter version I was kept anonymous because I didnt want an uncomfortable tag for the rest of my college career (I was a freshman back then). Many blogs were created by other students discussing this matter. Then there was a discussion meeting with Shapiro and Dean Roseman. At security, I identified the perpetrator, but the evidence did not work because of a confusion of the time I indicated and the time he swiped his card. He was not caught.

Now, all the blogs, including the one started by Ron, disappeared over the summer of 05′. A lot of people were talking about it, but no one understood why. This happened before WSO was completely redone, so no one from the class of 09′ and up was able to see them.

There have been people saying that this did not happened. I can guarantee you 100% that it did happen and I am not a liar, you can ask anyone that knows me.

Just last night I spoke about this incident in front of almost 500 people (I’m guessing the number, I dont know for sure) during the testimonial section of the rally.

Good stuff. Kudos to Rivera for sharing this painful episode, both with WSO readers and at last night’s rally. Comments:

1) Who was the perpetrator? If you want to make Williams the sort of place where drunks don’t shout “Nigger!”, then you have a responsibility to identify the guilty party. Since Rivera was able to identify him, the rest of us should learn his name, especially since he was never (?) admonished by anyone at the College. I realize that some might take exception to a policy of naming-and-shaming — I am happy to have that debate in the comments. At the very least, we should know his class year. (If you want to understand the Williams culture, then it matters if these incidents are mostly from first years or seniors.)

2) Although it is true that WSO has undergone changes between now and then, there is no doubt that Trinidad deleted the blog discussions which he started (and which I linked to and participated in). This happened before the revamp of WSO. Other threads from that same time frame were still available after Trinidad’s disappeared. This isn’t necessarily sinister. We are all tempted to delete conversations from time to time. But I checked this out thoroughly back in the day, going as far as contacting senior WSO folks to try to retrieve the information.

3) Sure would be fun to have more details about Rivera’s experience with the Administration.

At security, I identified the perpetrator, but the evidence did not work because of a confusion of the time I indicated and the time he swiped his card. He was not caught.

A Record reporter ought to interview Jean Thorndike. So, Rivera identified the perpetrator. (That’s consistent with my claim from two years ago that, if you know that someone is a student, you can figure out his name, even if you have never met him.) That would, one would think, set the College’s disciplinary wheels in rapid motion. If Rivera identified him, then surely he was “caught” in the sense that the Dean’s Office brought him in and grilled him. (And his friends?) This happened, when? The day after the incident? (Schapiro’s campus wide e-mail went out the same day.)

And then what happened? Rivera (and Trinidad) claimed that the event happened at time X, but they were honestly mistaken. The perp showed that he had swiped in (for the last time that evening?) at sometime (well?) before X. And, so, the College did nothing. But why? If I were Dean Roseman, I would not have let things go so easily. Why not cross-check with the perp’s friends? Why not use Rivera’s and Trinidad’s own card swipes to set the time-line? Just because Rivera made an incorrect rough estimate of the time is no reason for the guilty to escape justice. Did the perp have some pull with the Administration? It would be easy, so soon after the fact, to corroborate various parts of the story. Was the accused out drinking late that night? Was he wandering around with a bunch of other people? And so on. Roseman and Thorndike know their business. Surely they did this . . .

But, again, kudos to Rivera (and Trinidad) for coming forward. If we are to improve Williams, we must first catalog, in detail, what is wrong. Tell those stories. Write them down.

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