By now, you have likely heard about an incident this week on campus involving two young men from Babson and our Wellesley sisters of African descent. Earlier in the week, WAAD sent a letter to the Wellesley students of African descent, which can be found here [please hyperlink, Cheryl]. Communications with the students and administration, including President Johnson and Tracey Cameron (Director of Harambee House) indicate that collectively, the students have lost their sense of security and peace on campus, are increasingly fearful and unable to eat, sleep, or focus on their lives as students. Truly, this is unacceptable, and we as an alumnae community have been working hard to allay their fears and help restore the sense of normalcy that has been lost. I know that many of you have individually sent cards, flowers, letters, emails, and so much love to the students, and for that, I know they are exceedingly grateful. Our sister Sara Miller Greene, ’95 reached out to the current students to start an alumnae big sister program, which has been well received.  And collectively WAAD will also be sending over some snack food and flowers to the students, to continue to show them our love.

Given the swift nature of the spread of news via social media, there is a lot of information being shared about this horrible incident. I was able to speak to President Johnson this week about the state of affairs on campus; attempting to understand the details of the incident, and to find out how we can continue to help her and the rest of the administration to provide support to our students in its wake. In response to this conversation, she shared the following letter to the WAAD community, which I would like to share in its entirety with you.

In solidarity and with love,

Dorothy Jones-Davis '98

President, WAAD

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Dear WAAD,

Please know that I understand and deeply appreciate your concern. I too, am deeply troubled and saddened. There is nothing more important to me than the safety and well-being of our students.

I know you join me in repudiating the aggressive, hateful act of intimidation that was exhibited on our campus on Wednesday. We will not tolerate this. Let us say it in the simplest of terms: we reject hate. It has no place here or anywhere in this country.

As the police actively investigate, our first and most urgent response has been to support each other, especially those who were harassed. We must be there for each other, listen to each other, and ask for help when we need it.

The Dean of Students, our Counseling professionals, Residential Life professionals, Cultural Advisors, Class Deans, Office of Spiritual and Religious Life team, and other Student Life professionals are all providing ongoing support for students. From our Place for Peace vigils to Wednesday and Thursday evening teas, from an open forum hosted by College Government to open hours at the College’s Cultural Centers and expanded and extended Counseling hours, we are making sure our students have the support they need. Wellesley faculty members have also been reaching out to connect with their students. They are rejecting this hate by committing, as they say, “to sustaining an ongoing dialogue about how to keep our campus a place of justice, inclusion, and striving always for clarity.”

We are a community that places empathy at the core of who we are, and these moments require us to show that we know what that means. As strong as we are as a community, the reflective and sincere practice of empathy—of imagining ourselves in someone else’s shoes—will teach us about what others face, and will affirm the necessity of our connectedness. I am working to ensure that every interaction our students have as we scrutinize recent events is empathetic, open, and respectful.

College leadership, Campus Police, and Babson College Police and officials are working together diligently to collect and evaluate information. The police have informed me that they have reports of an incident in which a Wellesley student was spat at just outside campus. They say they have reports of the boys shouting “Trump. Make America Great Again,” as they rode through the entire campus, but there is not yet a direct report of racial or homophobic slurs. It is critically important that anyone with information contact Chief Lisa Barbin immediately at 781-283-2125 or lbarbin@wellesley.edu.

We must have the community’s help for a thorough and careful investigation. The police are following up on each and every report, and I am encouraging students to share what they saw and experienced. If a student would feel more comfortable, I am urging her to reach out to our student life professionals or a faculty member to accompany her to talk to the police.

The traumatic experience of the episode on Wednesday has deeply affected us all.

We will stand united against all hateful acts of intimidation and hold true to the values that give us our strength and make us who we are. 

We are Wellesley,

President Paula Johnson