Rally At Trinity Protests Racially Offensive Web Post
ARIELLE LEVIN BECKER
October 28, 2008
More than 200 Trinity College students, faculty and staff rallied on campus Monday in response to a racially offensive comment posted on an online message board.
"Something negative happened and we want to turn it into something positive," said Ibrahim Diallo, one of the students who organized the rally. Organizers said they hoped to start a discussion and make it clear that people did not agree with the posting.
The comment, posted anonymously on a website called TrinTalk, disparaged minority students and said their admission to the college correlated with a drop in the rankings of "our fine Trinity." TrinTalk is not affiliated with the college.
Trinity President James F. Jones Jr. told the crowd that he was horrified by the posting, but heartened by the gathering of people who rallied against it. "You are far more representative of Trinity than the cowardly individual who wrote the anonymous, hate-filled posting," he said.
Jones also noted that the college's freshman class, a quarter of whom are minority students, was the school's most highly credentialed class.
The college has dealt with racist incidents in the past, including a string of racist and sexist incidents in 2007 that led to the formation of a committee examining the campus climate. Work to implement the committee's recommendations is ongoing, Trinity spokeswoman Michele Jacklin said, and has included the creation of a series of lectures intended to bridge differences.
But those efforts haven't been enough, said sociology Professor Johnny Eric Williams, who listed racial incidents that have occurred during his 13 years on campus — swastikas and racial epithets spray-painted on the tennis courts, racist and homophobic messages written outside students' rooms, students' attending a Halloween party in blackface and other offensive costumes.
Williams, who is black, told the crowd he hated coming to events like the one held Monday — people leave feeling good about themselves because they had a conversation. Instead, he said, students should feel uncomfortable. "I'm uncomfortable all the time on this ... campus," he said.
If the college wishes to end hate on campus, Williams said, it could, by changing its policies to not admit students who are intolerant, increasing student and faculty diversity, and making diversity a central goal.
Quinnipiac University has also dealt with racial incidents in recent days. On Friday and Saturday, Hamden police responded to two incidents in which racial epithets were written outside dorm rooms where black students who play for the school's basketball team live. On Monday, three black student basketball players received harassing telephone calls with similar racial overtones, police said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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