Curry Continues to be Riddled by Biased Incidents

BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO // SEPT. 29, 2017 //

Despite being the target of anonymous hate speech, a Curry College student is refusing to show fear.

A note left on the student’s windshield outside of Bell Hall served as the third campus incident reported within the same day, Tuesday, Sept. 26. Two other students residing in 886 found derogatory remarks about their sexual orientation on their own property.

The following day, Wednesday, Sept. 27, yet another incident was reported, this time attacking the sexual orientation of a member of the college’s radio station, WMLN 91.5.

Vice President of Student Affairs Maryellen Kiley said the college’s Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) has begun its review process and has also taken steps to aid those affected. The incidents have been referred to Milton Police, who are investigating them as potential hate crimes.

The team has also “engaged with relevant affinity groups and student clubs and organizations that might have impacted members, implemented programs in the 886 Brush Hill residence hall, and discussed ideas about how BIRT can continue to educate the Curry community about the importance of inclusion and embracing our differences.” The myCurry portal displays a “Community Notification of Reported Bias-Related Incidents” sidebar that dominates the right third of the screen as you log in.

Michela Flowers, a sophomore Psychology major, was among those targeted.

“When I walked to my car I saw a note was under my windshield,” Flowers explained. “When I opened it, it said, ‘Half Breeds Not Welcome.’ ”

She immediately went to faculty members she trusted and they in turn assisted her in reporting the incident to Public Safety. However, Flowers noted she did not feel satisfied with the way the situation was handled.

“I don’t think that Public Safety did an efficient job because they told me I shouldn’t post on Facebook and not expect retaliation,” said Flowers. “They handled it terribly. Milton PD told me the same thing, which is extremely frustrating considering a Facebook post doesn’t mean I was asking to be a target.”

FullSizeRender
Michela Flowers’ Facebook post from Wednesday, Sept. 27.

Flowers decided to turn to social media to express her frustrations, explaining she is tired of being told to keep quiet.

Curry College President Ken Quigley is similarly eager to engage publicly with the campus. He sent a college-wide email on Thursday, Sept. 28 to invite members of the Curry community to an open forum to discuss a plan of action.

“As I wrote to all members of the Curry community at the start of the academic year and shared directly with our entering class at Convocation, ‘Hate Has No Home Here.’ Simply put, acts of bias will not be tolerated on our campus,” wrote Quigley.

He continued to say that he, alongside Curry’s executive team and senior staff, will facilitate a community discussion that will take place outside of the Student Center at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29. The event has already been advertised on a number of Curry-affiliated social media sites, email listings, and posts.

For Flowers, finding those responsible is the necessary starting point of any solution.

President Quigley’s message to the Curry Community about the Public Forum on Friday

“At this school, I feel like you could literally get away with anything because nothing is being done to protect our safety,” Flowers said. “All Public Safety does is patrol the campus every now and then. We have all this money, why don’t they put it towards [more] cameras, because a good chunk of the crimes that happen on this campus could be stopped or they would easily be able to find the person who did it.”

As this is an ongoing investigation, Public Safety and the Dean of Students Office have remained quiet on what further action will be taken regarding each specific incident. Although security cameras were added to campus this semester, large portions of Curry are not covered.

Director of Public Safety Paul King simply offered a similar response to the one already posted on the portal.

“The College has both clear policies against hostile or hateful speech and a full commitment to creating a safe, welcoming and diverse campus,” said King. “These acts are contrary to all that Curry, its students, and faculty and staff stand for.”

If you have any information on these bias-related incidents, or others, you can contact Public Safety at (617) 333-2222, the Anonymous Tip Line at (617) 391-5280, or e-mail a tip to PublicSafety_tipline@curry.edu.

Students Want Better Communication About Crimes

BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO AND TYLER MILLIKEN // MAY 3, 2017 //

A number of Curry College students are angry about being kept in the dark about serious campus incidents this semester.

Students, faculty, and staff alike are trying to resolve tensions, and some issues. The Student Government Association hosted an open forum at its annual Town Hall Meeting; the college ran a “May Day” event that promoted a positive outlook on diversity; and various groups have hosted educational events on campus concerning topics such as race, environmental concerns, and LGBTQ+ discrimination. There were even student-led protests last semester about the need for greater inclusion and transparency on campus.

But although the college has implemented a new “bias response protocol this semester, the administration remains inconsistent in how and when it informs the Curry community — if at all — about serious incidents on campus.

Sexual Assault in Curry Dorm

(Editor’s Note: Charges have been dropped in this case.)

For example, on May 1, The Patriot Ledger reported that a Curry student was raped in her dorm room by a Hyde Park resident who does not attend the school.

Godson Derosena, an 18-year-old student at Northeastern University, was arraigned in Quincy District Court on Friday, April 28, on charges of rape and indecent assault and battery. According to the story, the Curry student reported the incident to Public Safety back on March 22. The assault occurred two days prior.

Public Safety contacted the Milton Police Department, as well as campus support services for the victim. However, the Curry administration chose not to notify students, faculty or staff about the on-campus assault at any point throughout the investigation or even after Derosena’s arrest. Derosena pleaded not guilty last Friday and was released without bail.

“The only reason I knew about the rape was because my dad called me yesterday about the rape, worried about what was going on on campus,” said Emily Travascio, a freshman Nursing major, noting that her father learned about the incident from local news reports. “For other events going on on campus, such as racial prejudices, the school is slow to react to these things. We never really know what is going on.”

“The value of knowing is so we can be safer and be better informed,” she added. “I do not think the college is doing a good job of informing us.”

Student Sending Death Threats

As was the case with the on-campus assault, most members of the Curry community learned about another incident only after it was first reported on by external news media. According to The Berkshire Eagle, a Curry College first-year student was arrested on Sunday, March 26 after sending threatening messages to six other Curry students.

The Berkshire Eagle article was published on Tuesday, March 28. The following day, Curry College Public Safety released a statement of its own via email to notify the Curry community about what happened.

According to Public Safety, six Curry students reported that a previously suspended student, Sean Baruch, 19, had sent them vulgar text messages. Two of the students reported receiving death threats that included images of a black handgun. Baruch reportedly communicated that he was coming to campus.

It is unclear why Baruch was previously suspended by the college.

Public Safety contacted the Milton Police Department and assisted both Milton and Lenox Police in an effort to locate Baruch, who lives in Lenox. Lenox Police found Baruch at home, where he was taken into custody. It was only upon his arrest that police learned that the weapon he displayed was a toy.

Baruch has been charged with threatening to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrested. He pleaded not guilty in Southern Berkshire District Court.

“If it had been deemed an immediate or ongoing threat, Public Safety would have issued an emergency alert or timely warning in closer proximity to the actual incident,” said Interim Director Paul L’Italien. “Even though an emergency alert or warning wasn’t required, because of the scope and seriousness of the circumstances of the incident, including the arrest, the College believed it was important to send a community notification.”

However, L’Italien noted that there was a longer than usual interval of time in implementing the community notification protocol “due to human error.”

Hate Crimes reported via the Curry Portal

On Monday, April 10, Public Safety alerted students through the MyCurry portal about two bias-related incidents on campus. Throughout the past two semesters, students have been informed of these issues through campus email.

The community message explained that “a student in the Mayflower residence hall reported that her room had been entered and vandalized by an unknown individual(s). The student, who identifies as a member of the LBGT community, indicated that her decorations, including one with LGBTQ pride rainbow colors, were torn down and rearranged to spell an offensive word.”

Lumped into the message was a second incident. “A student who lives in the Lombard residence hall reported that the whiteboard on his door had been written on. The message, which was offensive and biased in nature, has been documented and removed, and the College has posted a notice about the occurrence of the graffiti in the location where it occurred, indicating intolerance for such behavior and asking for assistance in addressing it.”

“Prior to the new protocol, communications were inconsistent,” said L’Italien. “The ‘bias response team’ has implemented a consistent communication protocol this semester, which includes sending a Public Safety email to all students, parents, faculty, and staff if an instance of a hate crime occurs. That was not the case in the April 10 incident.”

L’Italien added that local law enforcement did not determine the incidents to be hate crimes, but that the “discriminatory behavior” will not be tolerated.

No one has yet to be identified responsible for the incidents.

Lisa MacDonald, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said students in the two residence halls assisted the bias response team and Student Affairs staff in addressing “this unacceptable behavior in their community.”

“If an instance of bias-related graffiti or vandalism occurs, the response team will [from now on] post a notification to all campus community members on myCurry,” said MacDonald. “The bias incident response team is also in the process of expanding the myCurry Diversity page and implementing ongoing updates about bias-related matters.”

While it remains unclear what constitutes “bias-related graffiti” versus a “hate crime,” it is evident that many students are unsatisfied with the inconsistent communication on campus. If a bias incident merits public acknowledgment via a flier at the site of the offense, why does a sexual assault on campus merit no communication at all?

“I believe it’s definitely important to know what’s going on at campus, and it’s not a good look for Public Safety to be hiding these serious situations from students,” said Marvin Bony, a senior Business Management major. “It causes more harm than good.”

When asked about the recent sexual assault on campus, which he was unaware of, freshman Stephen Bascio was far more blunt.

“I am absolutely appalled,” said Bascio. “Curry was founded on communications, so why don’t they start communicating the things that matter most”

Curry Implements New Bias-Protocol System

BY TYLER MILLIKEN // April 17, 2017 //

Dating back to last semester, reports of bias have been flying around campus; attacking students in every race, gender, sexuality, you name it.

These incidents have not been confined to a certain grade or culture or age. So in response, a new Bias Protocol System has been implemented to address the issues and help the targeted students.

The consistently offensive behavior aimed at numerous groups has impacted students significantly. There were some periods where students were afraid to walk alone on campus due to threats and bullying.

At the moment, Curry is working deliberately to overcome these tough times. The focus is on making students and faculty feel safe every day of the week.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Maryellen Kiley, provided some insight into how Curry College views the recent activity on campus.

“The College really takes pride in the fact that this is a community that respects each other and that there is absolutely no place for bias or hate of any kind,” Kiley vocalized, at a student government meeting on March 1st.

As Curry College continues to implement their Bias Protocol System into campus life, their motive is centered on accomplishing one specific task.

“The goal of this protocol is to continue to support the College’s efforts to be an inclusive community by ensuring a consistent, timely response to allegations of bias incidents on campus that promotes accountability, quells intolerance, and asserts our commitment to embracing differences and transparent communication,” Kiley explained, in an email sent out to students in late February.

If a bias incident is spotted on campus, it can be reported in three different ways now. Students can alert a person of authority at Curry, who will let Public Safety know of the issue. Public Safety can also be contacted directly, at (617) 333-2222, day or night.

The newest method joining the party is an online form. Students, faculty, and staff can now go to the Student Life tab on the myCurry Portal and go visit the Dean of Students page. Further down the page is a description on how to fill out a report.

Anyone who fills out the form can remain anonymous if desired and still bring attention to any type of bias incident.

The newest feature brought to Curry with the Bias Response Protocol system is the Bias Incident Report Team. In an email sent out to students in February, Maryellen Kiley laid out the responsibilities of the team while also identifying who will make up the exclusive team.

“The BIRT is an appointed and trained group of students, staff, and faculty members whose charge is to review reports of alleged bias incidents on campus, support individuals and groups involved and/or affected by an incident, and develop and communicate the appropriate institutional response as outlined in the Bias Response Protocol,” Kiley detailed.

It’s been months since Curry made local headlines due to hate crimes on campus, and students are still upset with the way these situations are being handled. The Bias Response Protocol system is hopefully the first step towards the student body minimizing the frequency and effects of this disruptive behavior.

As this new system continues to evolve and become a key fixture at Curry College, students can work right alongside those affected in order to create an even safer community around campus.