- EphBlog - http://ephblog.com -

Hate Hoax in Prospect I

Five years ago someone wrote “All Niggers Must Die” on the door of a bathroom on the fourth floor of Prospect House. (Record coverage here, here, and here.) That someone was almost certainly student of color and campus activist Jess Torres ’12. Evidence here: pdf. Let’s spend 5 days reviewing the case. Today is Day 1.

David Michael ’13 tells the story in this audio, a transcript of which is the evidence above.

Too lazy to listen to Michael’s amazing audio? Start with this claim by Williamstown police sergeant Scott McGowan:

I believe one of the motivating reasons the responsible persons wrote the message was to instigate and ignite tensions among people, which regrettably, was successful.

In other words, this graffiti — like so many of the “hate hoaxes” that rile colleges across the country — was not the work of an actual racist, someone with animus against African Americans. Instead, it was written by a minority student who sought to raise awareness of what she viewed as the racist nature of the Williams community. This is most similar to the 1993 case at Williams:

Five days before the start of Black History Month, three racial slurs against blacks written on pieces of notebook paper were found posted to the door of the Black Student Union’s building on the Williams College campus.

The messages were condemned by a multitude of campus voices. But the incident soon became something else: three days later, on Jan. 30, Gilbert Moore Jr., a black student, told administrators that he had posted the messages.

Minority students have been committing hate hoaxes at Williams for more than 20 years. A competent president/administration would not have panicked, would not have cancelled classes, would not, to this day, pretend that there are actual racist vandals wandering around the Williams campus. But that is not the president/administration we have at Williams. I sought comment about Michael’s analysis from Williams. Mary Detloff kindly provided this statement.

Williams investigated every possible lead and piece of information, including all specific claims brought to our attention, and have no reason to believe it was a hoax.

How absurd! (And we will examine Michael’s evidence closely over the next week.) There is ample evidence that the graffiti was a hoax, including statements by multiple Williams students with firsthand knowledge of the people involved. Why doesn’t Williams give a statement like:

Williams treats all vandalism, both racially-motivated and otherwise, seriously. After thorough investigation, we concluded that there was no threat to our community from the events of November 2011.

In other words, Williams does not have to accuse Jess Torres ’12 of engineering the hoax. It does not have to admit, directly, that the graffiti was a hoax — i.e., that it was not actually written by a white racist. But it could suggest, indirectly, that there was not as much going on here as we first thought.

Instead, Williams doubles down! It claims, even in the face of widespread knowledge of the hoax among students, that it has “no reason to believe it was a hoax.” Williams insists on continuing to terrify members of the community who, in all honesty, fear for their physical safety. For shame!

If the Record were a better paper, it would use this blanket denial as a reason to revisit the case.