Hilltops
Hartwick College's Student Newspaper

The View From Oyaron Hill

Blog Post Reveals Alleged Bias-Related Harassment at Hartwick

03.01.17


Joanne Georges


On February 26, a blog post titled “Refusing to Be Broken: Hartwick College Criminalizes Black Female Self-Defense against Racist White Male Assaults”, was published on AbolitionJournal.com detailing allegations made during an ongoing student conduct process at Hartwick College. The post describes four black female students as charged with “harm to persons”, “after they protected themselves during a violent attack by white student athletes,” wrote the article writer, and older sister of two of the black female students, Jallicia Jolly.


According to Student Senate meeting minutes, from Tuesday, November 29, the four black female students attended the senate meeting and spoke about the details of the alleged attack. The minutes indicate the altercation took place on November 19, between the two groups in downtown Oneonta. While the black female students huddled around a sick friend, the group of white athletes, consisting of males and females, “allegedly began to heckle the group of black females,” as stated in the minutes. 


The situation escalated from hurling insults at each other to the males throwing snowballs mixed with dirt at the group of black females. The narrative continued as "the group of black females left the bus stop…and proceeded walking down the street to Tino’s." At this point, the group of males allegedly followed the women and shouted, “Trump 2016! Make America White Again!” from the opposite side of the road. The minutes also mention “an obscure physical altercation between a black female and an individual from the other group of students,” but gives no further details regarding this physical altercation. 


However, the minutes go on to explain that the police stepped in when hailed by one of the black females. It was perceived that the white males ran from the scene when police entered. The group of women told Student Senate, "The officers told the group…to relax and go home." After the group of black females returned to campus, they described themselves as having been “overcome with anxiety over the incident,” and sought assistance from Campus Safety. The Campus Safety Officer arrived at the room of the black females and listened to the women recount the incident. According to the minutes, the campus safety officer also told the group of girls to "relax" and to "stop being dramatic." The minutes said the group of black females considered the officer "to be of little to no assistance to the situation at hand."


Available under the Student Senate Hartlink page, the meeting minutes go on to explain that siblings of two of the girls within the group of black females wrote a letter to Hartwick expressing their disgust and demanding a response from the college. The siblings’ names are not identified in the minutes. The document includes individual commentary but to protect the anonymity of the black women, none of the statements are attributed to a specific speaker. The names of the male students involved remain undisclosed. From there the retelling of the incident and its dictation in the minutes ends.


The day after the Student Senate meeting, on November 30, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Meg Nowak released a campus-wide statement promising a full and comprehensive investigation into the incident. Nowak stated that there would be consequences for all involved.


“Hartwick College does not tolerate harassment, violence or bias-related activities.” Nowak wrote, “The reported incident is under active investigation, and any and all persons who are found responsible will be held accountable for their actions.”


Since Nowak’s statement in November, the college had not released any information or updates on the investigation until February 27, apparently in response to the blog post written by Jolly. Nowak’s statement explains that the investigation of the incident concluded in December and the case is currently being processed through the Hartwick College student conduct system.


In her February 27 email, Nowak wrote, “Student conduct records are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Acts (FERPA), so we are not at liberty to discuss specifics of the case with the public.”


Nowak goes on to explain that Hartwick College does not tolerate acts of harassment, violence, or bias-related activities. She reiterated, “Charges of bias are taken very seriously by the College and all persons found responsible will be held accountable for their actions.”


According to Jolly’s blog post and the matching petition, the institution should also be held responsible. The petition states that administrators, President Margaret Drugovich, Dr. Nowak, and Dean of Student Life Tara Loewenguth, "framed the women’s efforts [to defend themselves] as a violent attack on the white male students and have disavowed the racialized nature of this aggression.” The petition calls for the removal of administrative charges on the group of black females’ records and files, and a public denouncement of racially motivated violence.


Hartwick College Code of Student Conduct