Target: Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich, President of Hartwick College
Goal: Demand formal apology by school administration to black female students charged after defending themselves from alleged hate-inspired offense, and punish white male attackers instead.
Four black female undergraduate students were victims of an alleged racist attack by white student athletes near the Hartwick College campus, in upstate New York. They reported that they had dirt and snow thrown in the faces and that one of the attackers shouted: “Make America white again!” The young women fought back and defended themselves, but their brave attitude was framed as a violation of the Student Conduct Policy by the school administration. Hartwick College has disavowed any racist bias in the white student athletes’ motivation, irresponsibly transforming victims in assaulters.
Unfortunately, there are pervasive stereotypes of black women embedded in our culture. Heavily harmed by racist and patriarchal values, black women are often mischaracterized by their looks, outfits, and manners, and framed as irresponsible mothers and caretakers or deviant women. Such stereotypes are at the bottom of racialized gendered punitive policies in U.S. educational institutions: a study by the African American Policy Forum revealed that black female students are suspended at six times the rate of their white female fellows, and a study by researchers from Texas A&M University indicated that teachers are harsher on black girls and teenagers. It is not a surprise, therefore, that Hartwick College has criminalized its black female students while downplaying the seriousness of the white male students’ offense.
The white male attackers have even apologized, confirming not only their wrongdoing but also the boldness of the victims who confronted them. However, it is unacceptable that the Hartwick College administration takes the attackers’ apology as an excuse to push forward a charge in the black young women’s records. Since the election of Donald J. Trump as president, hate crimes at college campus have grown remarkably, with the Office for Civil Rights reporting a more than 100% increase in such offenses in comparison to the whole eight years of the Obama administration. Sign the petition urging Hartwick College to formally apologize to the real victims and punish their real attackers.
Dear Dr. Drugovich,
I demand that you publicly apologize to the four black female students from your institution who were victims of alleged racially-motivated violence by white male counterparts. It is unacceptable that the Hartwick College administrative board decided to impose charges on the young women’s records and let the attackers walk away.
Educational institutions must be leading the fight for respect for diversity as our country witnesses a chilling rise in hate crimes everywhere. I urge you to pursue punishment measures against the original attackers and send the important message that bigotry has no place on your campus.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Stevebidmead