Women’s studies department targeted
Tamonda Griffiths – News Writer
A flyer was posted on the women’s studies department door depicting then Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh surrounded by allegedly white supremacist, neo-Nazi and pro-rape symbols, according to Jen Wilson, a women’s studies graduate assistant.
“It’s harassment,”said Vanessa Parker, a department graduate. “It’s intimidation.”
The flyer was discovered around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, by Parker, Wilson, and Director of Women’s Studies Yi-Chun Tricia Lin.
A copy of the original flyer was requested from Lin and university Police Chief Joseph Dooley. Both requests were denied.
Parker said they were in their department office when two female students waved at Parker.
She said she thought they were interested in learning about the women’s studies program, and went to open the door.
According to Parker, the two students said, “‘I think you should see this,’” and they showed her the poster.
In a written statement sent to the university on Thursday, Oct. 4 from President Joe Bertolino, he wrote the flyer is “shameful and disturbing.”
“While we are investigating the matter, it is clear that such expressions of bigotry have no place on our campus,” wrote Bertolino, in the statement.
On Monday, Oct. 1, the department hosted a lecture called Socially Engaged Art & Women’s Movement, where students were encouraged to create their own artwork.
On the department’s door, a hand-drawn picture of a chess board and a lone pawn is posted, along with a quote from Christine Blasey Ford stating, “I am nobody’s pawn.”
Lin and Parker said they think someone may have become angry at that, sparking the incident.
In the afternoon, Lin took a photo of the flyer and proceeded to consult a group of colleagues.
According to Lin, she then went across the hall to the Office of Student Conduct and Civic Responsibility. There, administrative staff took a report and began an investigation to find out where else the flyer could have been posted.
“We all marched down to the president’s office,” said Lin. “From that moment onward it was a very, very busy afternoon.”
Dooley said the investigation is still ongoing, and campus police are still piecing together what happened.
Wilson said she thinks the campus police, the Office of Student Conduct, diversity office, and resident’s office have responded with immediacy and taken the incident seriously.
Lin said she was, “… feeling violated as a program…disturbed, troubled, and, you know, also determined.”
“This is the moment for an earnest dialogue and also, this is a teaching moment we cannot lose,” said Lin.
Wilson said following the president’s statement a male student came to the office to see the flyer and said, “‘If it weren’t for these three symbols this might be a different conversation.’”
Wilson said, as a department, they believe in freedom of speech and although they might find some people’s comments “problematic” in regard to the Kavanaugh hearings, they still think people are entitled to their opinion.
“When you add those things [neo-Nazi and pro-rape symbols] to it, that changes it from a conversation to harassment,” said Wilson.
Lin quotes a colleague who said, “’Freedom of speech is about government infringement. Not about protecting hate speech or avoiding the consequences of speech, hate speech, or otherwise.’”
Parker said she was both shocked and outraged and compared the possible tensions that spawned the incident to the 1991 Senate trial of Anita Hill and current Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas.
“This is, like, phase two,” said Parker. “Like, history repeating itself.”
Wilson said, “a huge reaction” is “exactly” what the perpetrators of this incident wanted, but she thinks it is important to let people know that they do not “let this kind of thing slide.”
Lin said this is the first time the department has been “targeted” this openly and with such “severity.”
“I want people to know that it’s never too late to change and never too late for education,” said Wilson.
Parker said she is still processing what is going to happen next.
“I want to see how things play out,” said Parker. “because this is just the start or maybe it’s just one-and-done.”
Photo Credit: Mckenzie Katz
Photo Caption: An edited copy of the yer that was posted on the women’s studies department door. Altered by McKenzie Katz, an alumna, to have the red “X” on it. It was originally posted on Facebook.