Sophomore Removed From Campus

BY COLE McNANNA // Feb. 16, 2018 //

Sophomore Psychology major, Michela Flowers, the subject of some of the first hate crimes reported on campus, was removed from campus Thursday following an expression of her frustration.

Ever since a note was left on her car, Flowers had been meeting with Student Affairs, Public Safety as well as the Diversity Coordinator in order to create change on campus. However, with not much change to show, Flowers was losing hope in those in charge of the school.

One of the movements Flowers was trying to push was a more lenient parking policy, citing she felt unsafe walking the campus after already being the target of a hate crime.

She mentioned that Thursday, she was running late to class after being in Health Services dealing with a stomach bug. Flowers said the Mayflower lot was closed off to those without a pass and she ended up parking in the Public Safety parking lot, earning her a $50 fine when she got out of class.

“I came back from class with a ticket. I got in my car, with all my windows down, and played ‘F— The Police,’” Flowers stated.

She explained that Director of Public Safety, Paul King, came outside and pointed over his shoulder, meaning to keep it down for the neighbors.

“So I turned up my music,” said Flowers. “He mocked me before I rolled up my window, so I played the music louder.”

After that, she left to go back to her room before having to come back for another class later on. She again pulled into the PS parking lot, playing the same song. However, as she turned out of 940 Brush Hill Road, a Milton Police Officer pulled her over, handing her a $55 noise complaint ticket.

In addition, he informed Michela that she was to leave campus and not return until the Student Conduct Office got in touch with her to schedule a meeting.

Chief King confirmed the events but was unable to delve deeper into details due to the case’s open nature.

Flowers ended up staying the night at a friend’s house in nearby Taunton before receiving a phone call from Director of Student Conduct, Melissa DeGrandis, confirming her Tuesday afternoon meeting.

However, before that meeting in four days, Flowers was on the schedule at her off-campus job in Westwood which she will be unable to attend since the necessary belongings are still in her room.

“It’s like the system doesn’t care that these are real people with real-life situations,” Flowers noted.

The news was first reported on Facebook, with senior Samuel Piscitelli posting a message compiled by student activists with whom Michela was working with to create change.

Flowers Note
Credit: Samuel Piscitelli’s post in Curry College Class of 2018’s Facebook page

Piscitelli mentioned that the group had been growing as more and more found out about what happened.

That was put on display by the amount of re-posts and shares that the note got across social media platforms.

This story is developing and will be updated as details emerge.

 

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 Students Protest Campus Hate Crimes, Quiet Response

BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO // NOV. 17, 2016 //

The rain and cold weather Tuesday evening didn’t deter a small yet dedicated group of students from speaking out against recent hate speech incidents on campus.

Approximately 30 members of the Curry community stood outside the Student Center Tuesday night for two hours, chanting, marching and encouraging classmates to condemn hate speech of any kind. The group primarily consisted of students, although a few professors and staff attended as well.

The demonstration followed three separate hate speech incidents in recent months. According to a campus-wide email sent Nov. 10 by Provost David Szczerbacki and Maryellen Kiley, vice president of Student Affairs, the incidents included “verbal and written hate speech…with bias-related graffiti ranging from a racial epithet, to an anti-Semitic symbol, to a political comment directed against the transgender community.”

The incidents, which occurred in NCRH and Lombard Hall, were reported to the Milton Police Department. According to Milton Deputy Chief James O’Neil, all three are still under investigation.

The Nov. 10 email to the Curry community was the first time many people on campus learned of the incidents, which date back to Oct. 7.

protest3
Student protesters, from left, Shawn Thompson, Victoria Parks and Erin Scanlon, all sophomores, attended Tuesday night’s demonstration in spite of rainy conditions. // PHOTO BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO //

“Let’s face it, [Curry College] is…a business,” said Katelynn Stalaboin, a sophomore Communication major and one of the organizers of the protest. “They need to protect the business. But at what cost? Are we going to compromise our values and brush hate crimes under the rug?”

Administrators did report, in the college-wide email, that they conducted “outreach and support in the residence halls, and the engagement of campus groups representing multiple constituencies.” An open campus forum, hosted by Kiley and Jennifer Balboni, a Criminal Justice professor, was also held on Nov. 10 to discuss the recent presidential election. A crowd of approximately 30 students, faculty, and staff discussed their fears and concerns about Donald Trump’s future presidency, given his inflammatory and often offensive rhetoric throughout the campaign, as well as the recent hate speech incidents on campus.

Those outside the Student Center Tuesday said they were not protesting the president-elect. Rather, they wanted to bring attention to a persistent problem on campus. A Facebook group page originally created to mobilize demonstrators was quickly flooded with posts in which Curry students told stories of how they have felt discriminated on campus.

“Make it known in our community that these past weeks’ hate crimes and those that have come before WILL NOT be tolerated,” read a post by junior English major Sam Piscitelli.

Standing in the rain Tuesday, demonstrators said they hope college officials will hear their cries and make some noticeable changes.

“We’re hoping to inspire [the Curry community] to stand up to look for changes in policy on how [hate crimes] are handled, and to come together as a community to stop all the hatred going around,” said Kendall Graham, a junior English major.

“I’m hoping to bring attention to this issue because a lot of people are just kind of brushing it under the carpet and not really making a big deal when it is,” added Victoria Parks, a sophomore Psychology major.

Piscitelli and junior Communication major Randyll Collum, “who is living on this campus every day in fear that attacks will be made,” were among the others leaders of the demonstration.

“I’m hoping that my friends and people of this community will be able to walk safe at night or any other time of the day,” Collum added. “I hope that they can sleep in bed at night without being in fear. I hope that the administration does more to keep the community together.”

Among the common sentiments at the protest was a desire that the administration quickly, fully and honestly communicate with students whenever incidents arise on campus. Handling hate speech crimes on a dorm-by-dorm basis only serves to contain the spread of information, they said. As a result, rumors, fear and a lack of trust fill the void.

“I feel like a lot of people aren’t even aware of what’s going on on campus, and they need to know,” said Erin Scanlon, a sophomore Psychology major.

protest1
Transgender students Hayden Lombardozzi, left, and Bea Botelho stand in unison at “Colonels Take A Stand” protest. // PHOTO BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO //

“We want to convey a message that we don’t approve of the hate that has been going on on campus,” said Hayden Lombardozzi, a junior Criminal Justice major. “We see what’s happening and we don’t like it. Curry needs to be a place where everyone deserves to be safe. No one should feel unsafe in a community they pay so much money to go to.”

Lombardozzi stood blindfolded at the demonstration, holding a poster board that explained he and others have been targets of hate speech on campus because they are transgender. Lombordozzi called on students to sign his shirt in an act of solidarity and support.

“I’m just proud that the students are able to take a stand for things that matter to them and that they are standing up against hate and intolerance,” said Si Pearman, First Year coordinator and faculty advisor for the Gender Sexuality Alliance student group. “I think it’s really important that the administration [continues to] sit down and give ear to the students. More than just dialog, conversation that turns into action.”

Hate Crime: Fliers for Upcoming Play Vandalized

BY KATELYNN STALABOIN // APRIL 13, 2016 //

An alleged hate crime was committed on Curry College’s campus in relation to the upcoming spring theater production.

On Friday, April 8, fliers for the school’s upcoming play “The Laramie Project” were vandalized with anti-gay slurs and inappropriate drawings in two different academic buildings, Hafer and AAPC.

The play reenacts the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was beaten and tied to a fence, left for dead on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998.

Hayden Lombardozzi, a sophomore Criminal Justice student, discovered one of the vandalized posters. The poster had an anti-gay slur written across it and was left up on the in-going door on the ground floor of Hafer. Lombardozzi is a cast member in “The Laramie Project” as well as a LGBTQ student on campus.

“It’s really easy to forget that people think that way,” Lombardozzi said of his reaction after finding the vandalized poster. “People are just like ‘fag is just a word.’ Well fag was just a word when Matthew Shepard was murdered. It’s a stepping-stone to do something worse and if it doesn’t get caught where it’s at you don’t know where someone’s going to take it.”

President of Curry College Ken Quigley made the following comment to the Currier Times:

“We deeply regret that this activity has occurred on our campus and how it has hurt members of our community, and we are currently investigating the matter. We do not believe these incidents to be reflective of the overall respectful, intelligent, inclusive and diverse environment at Curry College. The College has prioritized fostering an inclusive, diverse, and respectful campus as one of our four Strategic Plan directions, and endeavors to prevent incidents such as this from recurring. The Curry College community at large is united in this goal.”

The Curry administration has replaced each vandalized poster with a new one that reads, “This was the site of racist, religious, homophobic and/or sexist vandalism.” The flyer further reads, “We chose to remove vandalism, not to hide it, in order to not perpetuate hateful speech.”

Curry’s plan following the incident is to replace each vandalized poster with a new one acknowledging the incident. // PHOTO BY KATELYNN STALABOIN
Curry followed the incident by replacing each vandalized poster with a new one acknowledging the incident. // PHOTO BY KATELYNN STALABOIN

When asked if the campus is diverse and accepting, Curry students have mixed reactions.

“There are always going to be a population of people anywhere that doesn’t agree with another group of people,” says Mark Donlin, a sophomore Sociology major.

Others think Curry needs to harden its policies and be more proactive when it comes to hate crimes and speech.

“Curry wants their track record clean,” says Cristina Sacchi, a senior Psychology major. “To own up to something like this is a whole different thing.” She also pointed out how no one on campus has been informed formally about the incident.

“I don’t think Curry is really safe place anymore for the LGBTQ community,” says Sandra O’Donnell, a senior Education major. “I don’t understand how people can be so rude.”

The school and Milton Police are currently investigating this incident as a hate crime, according to Brian Greeley, chief of Public Safety. Curry College Public Safety is urging anyone with any information on who might be responsible for this act to please contact Public safety at 617-333-2222 or call the college’s anonymous tip line at 617-333-2159.

“The Laramie Project” will be showing Saturday, April 16 through Tuesday, April 19.

Katelynn Stalaboin, a member of the Currier Times news staff, is also involved in the production of “The Laramie Project.”