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Hate Hoax in Prospect V

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 5.

The discussion between David Michael ’13 and Parker McClelland ’13 concludes:

Michael: Is change possible? Even if these hate crimes go unsolved? I asked Parker what he thought about the investigation.

Parker: I don’t think there’s any excuse to be brushing things under the rug when it’s that serious, and I don’t think anyone should be receiving preferential treatment or harsher treatment than someone else who committed an act like this. I think it’s a horrible thing to do.

Michael: How do you feel about the fact that people don’t know who did it?

Parker: Well I think a lot of people have the same belief, hold the same belief, that I do. But, yeah it makes me angry to think that someone, who I’ve seen commit a lot of very selfish acts, can get away with something like that because a lot of other people wouldn’t have gotten away with it and I don’t think that’s fair.

Michael: And so the pattern repeats itself, like clockwork. Some graffiti is discovered, then the president emails the text to the entire student body, the relative identity group mobilizes and releases its list of demands in response to the incident. Depending on the amount of political capital they have, some of those demands will be met, in a never ending cycle of Claiming Williams, piece by piece. It’s happened before and it’s going to happen again. David Michael, class of 2013.

“Claiming Williams, piece by piece” is perfect phrasing. It captures the inevitable tension which, rightly or wrongly, surrounds campus activism. Has any single student done more harm to Williams in the last decade than Jess Torres ’12? Not that I can see.

Have you listened to the audio? You really should! David Michael ’13 did an amazing job. I doubt, alas, that Williams will thanking him any time soon.

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Hate Hoax in Prospect IV

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 4.

The following dialog is between David Michael ’13 and Tim Kiely ’11:

Kiely: All I did was write a simple statement which at its core was a criticism of the Office of the Deans for taking unilateral and unjustified action against a single student, in favor of another student. And then I was convicted of a rule that didn’t exist, I was placed on academic probation with no justification. After I appealed that case, later on, I was found to have all charges dropped.

Michael: I asked Kiely that if she did it, what might have motivated the student he spoke out against.

Kiely: If I were to guess, she was the type of personality that wanted to take radical action, to see, to get what she saw as positive change pushed through what she saw as an oppressive environment. At the end of the day though, she began to feel that, or she was encouraged to feel that, by elements within the administration within her mentors and whatnot, that if she made big enough lies and emotional enough lies, that she could pretty much convince anyone of anything she wanted. And one lie just fed into the next lie, and she thought she could get away with something as drastic as that, as committing a hate crime in order to get more attention.

Michael: He was similarly cynical about the quality of the investigation.

Kiely: I mean we sort of knew that didn’t we, when we, when the investigations were called off when the evidence was squashed, when we had inspectors and security officers telling us that they had to “run things up the flagpole” before they pursued legitimate leads. I mean we knew what that meant. So it doesn’t surprise me.

Me either.

Where is the Record on this story? Note their 2012 follow up article:

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.

By 2012, suspicions about the “racist” vandalism were widespread on campus and Jess Torres ’12 was the primary suspect, with much discussion on Yik Yak and elsewhere. The Record, however, reported none of that. Perhaps that is excusable given the evidence they had at the time. But now we have three alumni willing to publicly claim that the event was hoax, including one who was an eyewitness. How can the Record avoid the story and still claim to be a real newspaper?

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Hate Hoax in Prospect III

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 3.

The discussion between David Michael ’13 and Parker McClelland ’13 continues:

Michael: While we do not know for certain what happened that night, we still do know a few facts that can paint a picture of what might have happened. This student was seen drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana with her friends earlier that evening. Then, after being placed at the scene of the crime by Parker, she was seen at the nearby Red Herring bar shortly before 1:00am. The investigators interviewed residents extensively. They examined door opening and card access logs and even WiFi access points cell phones connected to. They concluded that there was “a narrow window of time” which leaves either this student or “a lone gunman” who unaffiliated with the college, entered and exited the building completely unseen.

Michael: Ultimately, says Parker.

Parker: Because of everything I saw that night and the fact that I know that she lied to security in her statement about ever coming above the basement of Prospect dorm that night, I believe that she did it, there’s no other reason I can imagine for her being up on that floor at that time, and it struck me as very odd that she didn’t approach me and exchange some sort of greeting that night when we saw each other.

Michael: As for why.

Parker: I think she wanted everyone to see her as part of a victimized group, in which she considers herself a powerful person. It puts everyone else in the position of sympathy for people in marginalized groups, and that benefits her.

Exactly right! This is precisely the motivation for “hate hoaxes” around the country. (The term comes originally, I think, from Steve Sailer):

Orwell’s version of what later came to be known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis emphasizes that human beings are better at noticing patterns for which they have been told names. The term “hate hoax” is a catchy name for a common pattern of events that have taken up a lot of space in the media since, say, Al Sharpton promoted Tawana Brawley’s hoax in 1987, but the term “hate hoax” isn’t really a thing you are supposed to know. So, the media is constantly surprised by each dreary repetition of hate hoaxes.

As is the Williams community.

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Hate Hoax in Prospect II

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 2.

This is dialog between David Michael ’13 and Parker McClelland ’13:

Michael: What do you think happened?

Parker: I think she went in there and wrote that graffiti.

Michael: While the case remains publicly unsolved, Parker McClelland, a student at Williams, had a unique perspective on the event.

Parker: So I lived in Prospect dorm on the 4th and a half floor. I lived a ways down the hall from the bathroom that the graffiti was written in.

Michael: While most students were out partying, Parker, a varsity Basketball player had to stay in .

Parker: I was just watching TV, you know, waiting to get tired so I could go to sleep.

Michael: Then he saw something that would come to haunt him in the upcoming weeks.

Parker: I saw a girl up there that I knew, umm, I knew quite well actually, because of connections she’s had with people on my Basketball team, and I saw her up at the end of that hallway near that bathroom, umm, I thought it was a little peculiar that she didn’t come down the hallway to say hi to me or you know, just exchange any casual greetings, because that’s what I think I would have normally expected to happen with a friend who was up on my floor. But she just went down the further stairwell away from me after we made eye contact.

Parker: I didn’t make anything of it. I figured it was homecoming, people were out, you know, drinking, partying, here and there. I didn’t make anything of it.

Michael: But once campus safety and security interviewed him, he sent the student a text message warning her that he had mentioned her in an affidavit.

Parker: In reply to my message she said, “Ohh, haha, I forgot I was up there smoking with you that night.” Basically that she forgot that she was up there doing something with me. And this was probably a week and a half after the night I saw her up there, she said she forgot seeing me up there, she mentioned that she forgot that we were doing something together, which we weren’t doing, hanging out or doing something together, smoking was what she said, which wasn’t the case, didn’t happen that night, so I was kind of confused by that at first.

We have an eye witness who places Jess Torres ’12 at the scene of the crime, during the very narrow window when the graffiti was written and with no good reason for being there. Torres then tries to cover her tracks. And the College still claims that there is “no evidence” for a hoax? There is a juicy story, one that might generate national attention, for an enterprising Record reporter . . .

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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.

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Torres ’12 Uninterrupted

Jessica Torres ’12 is one of the most important undergraduates of the last decade because of her central role in the November 2011 Prospect House graffiti hoax.

You might think that such infamy would, at least, cause Williams to stop praising her. Think again!

torres

The interview is titled “What Can Happen When a Dominican Girl from the Bronx Gets the Right Education.” Now, a naive reader might think that Torres would praise her Williams education. After all, why else would an official Williams account be tweeting it out? Unfortunately (or not?), there is not a word about Williams in the article.

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November 2011 Racist Graffiti in Prospect Was a Hoax

The Prospect House racist graffiti (“All Niggers Must Die”) of November 2011 was almost certainly a hoax, creating by a member of the class of 2012 who was (ironically?) a leader of the Williams Minority Coalition. Previous discussion here. It is hard to take the Record seriously as a newspaper if it won’t report this story.

Besides numerous prior doubts about the veracity of this “hate crime,” from people both on and off campus, we now have this radio story from David Michael ’13.
Give it a listen.

Comments:

1) Wow! What an amazing story! How did Michael get so many people to talk about the story on the record, including a Williams College security officer? Bravo!

2) Are you too lazy to listen? At some point, we should create a transcript. Summary: There was a very short window during which the graffiti could have been written. A minority member of the class of 2012, very active in campus politics, was seen on the 4th floor of Prospect at the time. She had no reason to be up there. She was seen by an acquaintance. Afterwards, as security (and the police?) were investigating, she sent a text to the acquaintance which seemed designed to get him to say that she was visiting him, and hence had a reason to be on the 4th floor at that time. The security officer, citing swipe card evidence, implied that the event was a hoax. Security Chief Dave Boyer refused to be interviewed.

3) I am not sure that this summary does the tape justice, but listen for yourself.

4) Michael ’13 declines to name the minority student who he (obviously) thinks is responsible for the hoax. Yik Yak, however, is not so punctilious, nor are our comment threads. I e-mailed the student for an interview. She never responded.

5) This, and other events, are why smart campus observers, whenever confronted by some racist outrage, assign (at least?) a 50% probability of the event being a hoax. I am embarrassed for the many Ephs who have yet to learn this lesson. Consider:
hls1

Professor Cohen should read EphBlog! If she did, she would (we hope!) be less likely to fail for obvious hoaxes like that one.

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Prospect Racial Slur Was Probably a Hoax

There is now significant evidence that the Prospect House racial slur of 2011 was a hoax. But, before we go into the details, we need a nickname for the scandal. Suggestions? For now, let’s go with Prospect Must Die. Why is this a good name?

1) It combines the location of the “crime,” the 4th floor of Prospect House, with the actual graffiti: “All Niggers Must Die.”

2) It (obliquely) references the 2006 movie John Tucker Must Die. Note that “John Tucker” might be shorted to the initials JT. I almost used the scandal nickname: JT Must Die, but that seemed too inflammatory . . . for now . . .

Besides numerous prior doubts about the veracity of this “hate crime,” from people both on and off campus, we now have this radio story from David Michael ’13.
Give it a listen.

Comments:

1) Wow! What an amazing story! How did Michael get so many people to talk about the story on the record, including a Williams College security officer? Bravo!

2) Are you too lazy to listen? At some point, we should create a transcript. Summary: There was a very short window during which the graffiti could have been written. A minority member of the class of 2012, very active in campus politics, was seen on the 4th floor of Prospect at the time. She had no reason to be up there. She was seen by an acquaintance. Afterwards, as security (and the police?) were investigating, she sent a text to the acquaintance which seemed designed to get him to say that she was visiting him, and hence had a reason to be on the 4th floor at that time. The security officer, citing swipe card evidence, implied that the event was a hoax. Security Chief Dave Boyer refused to be interviewed.

3) I am not sure that this summary does the tape justice, but listen for yourself.

4) Michael ’13 declines to name the minority student who he (obviously) thinks is responsible for the hoax. EphBlog knows the name from other sources. Should we publish it?

Why won’t The Record investigate this further? There is a great story to be told.

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Was the 2011 “Hate Crime” a Hoax?

From the Williams Alternative last May:

It has been a little over two years since the hate-crime in Prospect house, and our student body has not been informed of the results of the investigation or been given a timeline as to when we should expect some answers.

And don’t expect that to change, unless the Record gets more serious. The College prefers to flush these incidents down the porcelain memory hole, regardless of whether or not they are real or hoaxes. If they are real, then the College hardly wants to advertise itself to prospective students (and to alumni) as a hotbed of racism. If they are hoaxes, then the College’s PC immune system starts to attack itself.

In the aftermath of the incident students were ushered into “safe-spaces”, classes were suspended, and the entire community went into shock (the less said about the social-honor code idea the better). The President, the deans, many faculty members, and fellow students rushed to the aid of those who felt themselves to be under threat. While this response was admirable, it is important to push one salient observation: no one inquired into the possibility of the entire thing being a hoax.

I will not delve into the specifics of the crime due to legal concerns, but I will state a fact: there exists a common idea among the student body that the “hate-crime” was perpetrated by a minority student with ulterior motives.

At what point during our campus discussions following the event was such a possibility entertained: that a minority student had perpetrated the act, specifically in order to bring attention to minority-issues on campus and obtain benefits for their identity-group? Given the reactions of sympathy, attention, rev-evaluation and concession we observed it must be obvious that an incentive scheme exists for unscrupulous students to mimic genuine hate-crimes for their own gain, or merely to cause trouble.

Comments:

1) EphBlog was not providing thorough campus coverage during this period. Sorry! Relevant Record articles here, here and here.

2) I have spoken with several different students over the past few years who believe that it was a hoax, one of whom claimed to know the student responsible. Is this a topic that EphBlog readers want us to pursue further? Recall it was EphBlog who unmasked Professor of Art Aida Laleian a decade ago.

3) Roger Kimball, in a somewhat overwrought column, made similar claims:

And this brings me to the second hypothesis about who was responsible for the offending graffito: namely, that it was the act of a minority student attempting to drum up campus hysteria and to produce a climate in which minority groups could press for more concessions from the College.

Over the past few days, I’ve heard from several campus sources that the culprit is known to students and is in fact a minority student. One source said it was “common knowledge” who the person was. Maybe so. Still, it is not officially recognized common knowledge. The Williamstown police said no arrest had been made. A Williams College administrator told me that he was “100 percent certain” that the culprit had not been discovered, despite the tireless efforts of campus security, the Williamstown police, and the FBI.

“One hundred percent certain” is pretty impressive. It’s nice to know that certitude is alive and well in Williamstown, Mass. It will be interesting to see how long it survives. In the meantime, here are a few questions: why did President Adam Falk and the Williams administration go directly to panic mode over this incident? Didn’t they drastically overreact? Why involve the police, for heaven’s sake, to say nothing of the FBI (who should be off dealing with serious crimes, not an offensive graffito scrawled on a dormitory wall)?

4) Many (most?) of these incidents at elite colleges are, in fact, hoaxes.

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