On October 28th, just past midnight, a racist message was posted on a student’s social media account. A snapchat from an account belonging to Ursinus senior Paul Vecchio, which was captioned, “I hate the blakcs,” was reported to campus safety that night and subsequently handled in accordance with the Discriminatory Acts Policy.
While Dean Kim Taylor told “The Grizzly” that the college could not comment on specific students, she did say that “the College takes discriminatory acts very seriously in order to promote and [ensure] an inclusive and welcome community for all faculty, staff, students and visitors,” She also said that “in this case, we adhered to the guidelines outlined in our Discriminatory Acts Policy and I can confirm that the student involved was adjudicated and sanctioned.”
Vecchio declined to comment when contacted by “The Grizzly” and did not confirm whether he took the photo or wrote the caption.
The sanctions have not been disclosed to the Ursinus community.
Unlike after last winter’s bias incident, a racial epithet written in snow, there has not been a schoolwide email informing the community about the event. Ursinus’ Policy on Discriminatory Acts states that in the event that an incident is reported, the Ursinus community will be notified about it. The timing of the notification depends on the potential for harm, with reported acts “not posing a serious or continuing threat” being communicated about via email “in the immediate and longer-term aftermath.”
Despite the absence of a school-wide email, many students have heard about the incident and some are calling for Ursinus to be more transparent about how it handles these types of situations.
“Especially for the black community it’s a safety issue. If someone is openly discriminatory to our community then we have a right to know,” senior Angela Bey said. “It’s no secret that racism exists at UC and is perpetuated by the students, faculty and staff, so why does the identity of the perpetrator have to be a secret? The first step to solving the problem is identifying the problem and holding each other accountable.”
Senior Bryan Asiedu added that it is important for the school to take action quickly when these kinds of incidents arise.
“I feel that it’s very important to take these situations seriously. School is stressful enough as it is, and these added incidents only make students feel more uncomfortable in a supposedly inclusive environment. By handling these incidents swiftly and dutifully the school shows that they are also seeking to avoid these occurrences,” Asiedu said.
While many students are upset over the incident, other students privately told editors of “The Grizzly” that the grammatical errors in the post indicate that the alleged poster was just making a joke or did not understand what was going on. Students who spoke to “The Grizzly” did not want to go on record defending this view, however.
Other students believe that calling the post a joke is dismissive.
“If it’s a joke why did they feel the need to blast it on social media?” Bey said.
Asiedu would like to see the college rethink its response to incidents like these. “I only wish to see more preventative measures in the future as opposed to reactive.”
Members of “The Grizzly” staff were among the students