Vassar College Disorientation 2019-2020

Item

Current View

Title

Vassar College Disorientation 2019-2020

Date

2019

Place

Dutchess County, New York

Source

https://issuu.com/vcdisorientation/docs/diso_final_19_

extracted text

INTRODUCTION .............................................................

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STUDENT ACTIVISM HISTORY .........................................

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VC & POK TIMELINE ......................................................

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CASE FOR DIVESTMENT ................................................

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WHEN PEOPLE SAY "POK IS SKETCH" ............................

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RHETORIC OF COMMUNITY ...........................................

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ENVRIONMENTAL JUSTICE ...........................................

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CORPORATIZATION OF EDUCATION .............................

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CAMPUS SECURITY.......................................................

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POTENTIAL ACTIONS ....................................................

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WHY WE RECOGNIZE LAND ..........................................

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MENTAL HEALTH AND BURNOUT ..................................

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THE UNIVERSITY AND THE PRISON ...............................

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GET TO KNOW YOUR TRUSTEES ..................................

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LET'S TALK TITLE IX .....................................................

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GET YOUR MONEY BACK ..............................................

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THINGS TO DO NEAR CAMPUS ......................................

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CONCLUSION ...............................................................

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WELCOME!
After months of anticipation, you've finally arrived on campus
ready to embark on a transformative 4-year journey. Through admissions
packets, guided tours and co llege webpages, Vassar has been sold to
you as a beacon of enlightenment and progress. Your Orientation Week
has attempted to further inculcate you with tired cliches of a "liberal arts
education" and create a fantasy of exceptionalism.
We are a group of students who created this publication to
combat this romanticized administrative introduction. This guide aims to
peel back the carefully curated image of college and provide an understanding of institutional power at Vassar. Underneath the college's supposed 'progressive' history and 'social justice' emphasis is a deep legacy
of colonial violence. The grandiose library and manicured lawn have long
been bastions of consolidating class power and catering to whiteness. Our
institution sits on stolen Wappinger land and maintains an exploitative relationship with Poughkeepsie. We aim to disrupt the narrative that Vassar
is committed to being a "just, diverse, egalitarian, and inclusive col lege
community" by offering a glimpse at the white supremacist, carceral, and
capitalist values that govern the college.
Vassar, as fucked up of an institution as it is, is still an incredible
place in many ways and most of us generally enjoy our time here. We
have al l made transformative connections, gained important knowledge,
and had a lot of fun in this space. We are in no way telling you that you
will be miserable on campus (although you certainly may be at times) or

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that there aren't aspects we appreciate about the school. Our intention is
simply to provide a critical look at the ways the institution operates and
Vassar's historical legacy. This guide is fundamentally a means of sparking much-needed conversations, giving context to student activism and
examining of our own role as students of a colonial institution dedicated
to producing the next generation of civil bourgeois intellectuals. Everyone
is coming to campus at wildly different places with varying analyses and
lived experienced. Some of the material in the following pages may be
obvious to some and entirely new to others. Our hope, however, is that
even if you don't read this cover to cover, it can help you dive into the
conversations student organizers are already having and create connections.
This is the second year Vassar has had a Disorientation Guide and
there's still so much room for this platform to grow and be taken in new
directions. As you may hear, last year's publication caused quite the controversy on campus. Security sent out a school-wide Safety Alert, House
teams were instructed to order first years to delete the email with the
guide, right-wing media published stories on it, VSA held a tense forum,
folks accused of being involved were put through student conduct processes, and administration labeled it violent and anti-Semitic. While we do
apologize for any harm that was caused and acknowledge that last year's
guide as well as this one are thoroughly flawed, the response was frankly
ridiculous. To be clear, anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism and
while the discussion about the role of violence in our movements is an
important one to have, we have no intention of committing any acts of
physical harm. Our desire to share all of this with you is grounded in love,
care and the belief that another campus and another world are possible.
We are not experts or authhorities on any of this. Our thoughts do not
represent a consensus among the student body and we do not pretend
to speak for anyone. Critique is welcome and even encouraged but know
that attempts to represent the Disorientation Guide as discriminatory or
violent work to preserve the business as usual politics of the campus and
keep students under the arm of the administration.
Recognizing the fallacies in the harmonious advertised version of
Vassar is an uncomfortable process. As your ideals of campus life begin
to crumble under the dismal reality of the corporate college, you may
become disillusioned. But to disorient and defamiliarize oneself from the
logic of the modern university is to begin. It is the necessary first step to
undermine and challenge institutional authority. We hope this guide contributes to a culture of dissonance and passes down institutional memory.
Don't feel rushed to read this or know everything right away and if you are
feeling lost, overwhelmed, or even just a little confused, don't hesitate to
reach out to your fellow groups, classmates, professors and new friends.
Take care and talk to each other!
Please hit up vassardisoguide@gmail.com with your questions,
criticisms, death threats or general feedback.

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--

In 2005, 170 Palestinian unions, political
parties, refugee networks, women's organizations,
professional associations, popular resistance
committees and other Palestinian civil society bodies
put out the call to "people of conscience" all around
the world for an international Boycott, Divestment
and Sanctions (BOS) movement. Intended to apply
non-violent pressure on Israel to comply with
international law, the BOScall has three demands:
Ending Israel's occupation and colonization of all
Arab lands and dismantling the illegal apartheid
Wall, recognizing the fundamental rights of the
Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality and
respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of
Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in
UN Resolution 194.
BOS is a powerful avenue for challenging unconditional Western
support for Israel and strategically weakening cultural and economic
structures sustaining the subjugation of Palestinians. Born out of frustration
with failed negotiations, continuing on-the-ground colonization and
false potrayals of symmetry in peace talks, BOSshifts the discussion
around the Israeli-Palestinian "conflict " out of the realm of one or twostate solutions and sturggles for specific territory and into a broader
framework of decolonization and human rights. It marks a refusal to hold
occupation, ethnic cleansing and a system of blockades, checkpoints, mass
imprisonment, economic devastation , beatings and racism as normal. The
movement is informed by the legacy of the globnal campaign to boycott and
dismantle South African apartheid and a tradition of Palestinian boycotts.
With 86% of Palestinians in support of the BOS movement , BOS represents a
direct ask from the Palestinians fighting for their freedom on the ground.
As students, we have an obligation to answer that call. With the
U.S.funneling $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel every year and an everexpanding web of corporate partnership between the two countries that
derive profit from apartheid, the insititutions that govern us have pledged
their unwavering alleigance to the state of Israel. Vassar is no exception - a
portion of our endowment is almost certainly invested in companies on
the BOS list, we offer multiple study abroad programs in Israel, and our

administration time and time again demonstrates a willingess to conflate
anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Our school is complicit in apartheid. Just last
summer, President Bradley travelled to Israel where she met with a former IDF
General as well as Israel Nitzan, Israeli Deputy Consulate to New York, who is
now working the forge economic connections between Israel and Dutchess
County business. Bradley claims the trip was an educational one, that she went
to learn about liberal arts and public health in the region. However , she seemed
to take away little about how Israeli forces demolish Palestinian schools in
the West Bank, cut off access to essential medicines in in Gaza and deny sick
Palestinian permits to travel for medical treatment as she refuses to condemn
Israeli human rights abuses and continues to promotes a rhetoric of open
dialouge and the need to consider all views, even when those views regard the
Palestinian people as subhuman. This sort of engagement with Israel, especially
when coming from a figure who is seen as representative of the college,
sanitizes the violence and racism inherent in the Zionist project.
In their reaction to last year's disorientation guide, in their selective
scrutiny of Palestinian solidarity work on campus, and in their handling of the
2015-2016 Vassar BOS campaign, the administation prioritizes the wishes of
Zionist alum, trustees and media over the basic human rights of Palestinians.
They paint Jewish students as victimized by expressions of solidarity with
Palestine but provide no protection from the racist and islamaphobic attacks
from our opposition. Any time talk of divestment comes around, we hear the
same tired refrain: the endowment is not a political instrument and is only to
be used to further the mission of the school. This excuse is illogical. The mission
statement, which includes language that the college "strives to pursue diversity,
inclusion, and equity as essential components of a rich intellectual and cultural
environment in which all members, including those from underrepresented and
marginalized groups, are valued and empowered to thrive': is in itself incredibly
political. The fight for equity and the empowerment of marginalized groups
will never be apolitical acts and if the college really sought to align itself with
this mission, it would support a free Palestine. On top of the ridiculousness of
claiming the college's primary functions are removed from the realm of politics,
the trustee 's argument against divestment erases that Vassar did indeed use
the endowment for the purpose of a political statement when it divested from
South Africa under the apartheid regime. They simply don't want to deal with
the outcry and loss of funding that
may come with any semblance of
support for BOSand the Palestinianled movement for human rights.
Still, we should not feel
discouraged by administrators'
refusal to consider a conversation
about BOS.We have a duty to push
for it regardless and to change the
hearts and minds of our peers along
the way. Even without institutional

I 111.

BOYCOTT ISRAE~

recognition, student resolutions carry symbolic weight. It truly does not take
much to generate media attention, spark discourse, and educate our friends and
classmates. No matter the scale, our actions here matter. The organizing we do
creates tangible ripple effects on the larger Palestinian liberation movement.
First and foremost, our motivation to promote an academic, cultural,
and economic boycott of Israel is grounded in the immense suffering
Palestinians are subjected to as a result
of the Israeli settler colonial project. The
relationship between Israel and Palestine
is not one of a two-sided conflicted but
instead constitutes apartheid as defined by
the U.N. The entirety of the state of Israel exists
on occupied land , but since the 1967 Six Day War,
Israel has invaded and exercised control over the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. Their residents consist largely of
the Palestinians who were forced from their homes and land during the 1948
Nakba and their descendants. While even international bodies such as the
United Nations recognize these regions as sovereign Palestinian land, Israel
has continued to flout international law by consistently encroaching on the
territories, subjecting their residents to inhumane treatment and draconian
restrictions on movement and liberty. Palestinians in the West Bank regularly
face home demolitions and forced evictions, punitive arrests, unfair trials,
detainment, torture, and the use of excessive, often lethal force. This violence
is accompanied by a legal system that explicitly discriminates by ethnicity;
Israel erects checkpoints and military blockades around and between occupied
Palestinian lands, restricting physical movement and the flow of goods and
services to vulnerable Palestinian populations. In Gaza, Israel maintains
complete control over all but one border crossing, along with the region's
airspace, territorial waters, electricity/telecommunication
infrastructure, and the
population registry which determ ines who is allowed to enter or leave. Israel's
blockade on Gaza, renders its inhabitants effectively inmates of an open air
prison. With this, BOS is not about our advancing or even having specific vision
of liberation for the Palestinian people but is intended to build the necessary
international leverage for Palestinians to assert their right to self-determination.
Our sense of self-importance is not inflated to the point of believing
any Vassar student resolution is going to magically rebuild bulldozed Palestinian
homes in the West Bank or bring adequate medical supplies to Gaza or strike
down Israel's exclusionary citizenship laws. Even if the trustees were to wake up
one day with a dramatic change of heart and actually divest the portion of the
endowment is currently invested in companies that profit from Israeli human
rights abuses, we are well aware that the IDF would not be suddenly swayed to
lay down arms. By virtue of our distance from Palestine, the lack of Palestinian
students, and the perceived insignifigance of our campus population, we are
inclined to feel powerless and doubt the weight of our actions. We know that
Vassar administration, with the relatively small amount of money it has placed
in these companies, does not have the power to put substantial economic

pressure on Israel. And often, the symbolism of our rhetoric alone simply does
not feel sufficient. But BOS is precisely a call to refuse that line of thinkingto reject arguments that depoliticize or normalize any level of participation
in an apartheid state and to wage the struggle agaisnt Israeli human rights
abuses on whatever ground we stand on. However small our efforts be and
however frustratingly slow our progress may seem, we are cognizant that
Palestinian solidairy work at Vassar is not isolated from the international arena.
The conversations we are having on campus form a part of a broader shift
towards a recognition of the human rights violations Israel was founded on
and continues to commit. We are working in concert with student organizers
across the country to use the university as a site of reeducation on Palestine
and to challenge the complicity of our schools. On this issue, the surrounding
attention and controversy alone give us more of a platform to reach people and
change minds. We also find reassurance in knowing the campaign to demand
divestment from South Africa did not start to see major implementation until
over two decades after organizing began. BOScontinues to gain traction and
sway public opinion and our symbolic measures play an important role in that.
However, it won't be long before you start to notice certain types of
students, faculty and administators on campus who will be quick to declare
their support for reproductive justice or openly speak out about violence
at the border, but refuse to come out as anti-Zionist, at times even actively
championing Zionist cuases. Dubbed 'Progressives except Palestine' or PEPs,
these people ignore the plight of the Palestinians with an inconsistent antiimperialist ideology. We don't buy into this concept. Support for an apartheid
state and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is funamentally
incompatible a desire for a more just, more free world. Regardless of your
other politics, if you back the Israeli state, you are pledging your support for
racism, imperialism, fascisim, the military industrial complex, environmental
degradation, gendered violence etc. Still, Palestine is
treated as an exception. Many people across party
lines adamantly argue for the backing of the
settler colonial Israeli state and wage smear
campaigns against anti-Zionist orgnaizers.
The same folks sounding the alarm about an
epidemic of political correctness on campuses
destroying our right of free speech actively
seek to censor, dox, and harass activists speaking
critically about Israel. We see this with Canary Mission, an online
blacklist dedicated to destroying the lives of pro-Palestinian activists.
The intesnity of the racist intimidation and surveillance is embodied
in the backlash llhan Omar has received, in the firing of Marc Lamont
Hill, in the disallowal of Omar Barghouti to enter this county and in
every instance where someone is made fearful that a stance against
Zionism will compromise their future success. Pro-Israel backlash is
well-supported in establishment politics and is the product of Israeli
lobbying groups, evangelical influence, organizations conflating anti-

Zionism and anti-semtmism, and racist security politics.
The amount of powerful lobbying groups and powerful
individuals one comes up against when agitating
for a free Palestine can be terrifying. The potential
repercussions often work as a deterrent to people who
may otherwise support the struggle of Palestinians but
they also can lend to a wider platform for our message
as controversy generates attention and creates a rift in
the passivity of the Vassar community. Because there is
so much misinformation around Israel/ Palestine and a
hesitancy to "choose a side': it is our job to educate and
push folks out of complacency. Calling support for Israel
-..~ into question exposes the inconsistencies of supposedly
rogressive politics at Vassar, generates larger questions
about the administration's priorities and inspires a
culture of dissonance.
In a similar vein, agitating for BOSand the
realization of Palestinians ' human rights allows us to make
global connections and see ourselves as part of an international humanitarian
movement against colonialism, racism, borders , prisons , environmental
degradation, and state violence. Contrary to our critics' portrayals, Palestine is
not a "sing le issue': In what is called the " Deadly Exchange': thousands of U.S.
Law Enforcement Officials have traveled to Israel to learn counterterrorism and
surveillance tactics from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli police. The
occupied territories of Palestine are used as a field laboratory for experimental
military/security technologies which have gone on to be employed to confront
refugees on the shores of Europe, to track and capture migrants at the southern
border of the US, and to disrupt the protests in Ferguson in 2014. Elbit Systems,
an Israeli company, is at the center of the international military and surveillance
technology trade In 2018, the company sold its drones based on their"combat
tested" record of employment in Gaza for $68 million to the European Maritime
Safety Agency in order to identify and capture migrants off Europe's shore.
Elbit has also profited from a $145 million contract with the U.S.government
to construct surveillance towers on the border in Arizona. The surveillance,
policing, and killing of Palestinain bodies in Gaza and the West Bank informs
the surveillance, policing, and killing of black and brown bodies in the U.S.State
officials are openly collaborating to develop the most effective technologies to
control us. And as our oppressors have forged these connections, our movements
must too to effectively resist them. These expressions of solidarity are increasing
as more and more people become aware that we all have a stake in each other's
freedom. The Movement for Black Lives and many prominent leftists around the
world have endorsed BOSand Palestinian activists have travelled to Standing
Rock, tweeted advice at handling tear gas to Ferguson protesters and lended their
support to occupied Kashmir. None of us will be free until Palestine is free and as
students, fighting for divestment and non-collaboration with Israel is one of the
best avenues we have to promote peace and justice around the world.

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As an institution that openly markets itself as "highly selective" in
its own one-sentence descriptor while persistently promoting a
romanticized notion of community, Vassar can tell us a lot about
the contradictions bound up in the rhetoric of community. We
seek to unpack the cognitive dissonance it takes to sustain the
advertisement of the school as simultaneously inclusive and
elite, taking on the mantra of a mythical 'equitab le' exclusivity.
At every turn, it seems that administrators, professors, family
members and peers are instructing us about just how deserving
we are to inhabit these spaces. They inculcate us with the belief
that we earned our right to be here, that we are part of the select,
the talented few. These understandings of excellence necessarily
rely on othering. To see ourselves as part of an elite group is to
buy into the conception of a meritocracy. It means cordoning
ourselves off in our ivory towers and self-righteously denoting
ourselves as somehow above the general population.
As designed, Vassar has always functioned as a
space of exclusion and as a bastion of inequality. Following
the expropriation of the land the college sits through colonial
conquest , the creation of our institution is predicated on the
attempted destruction of the Wappinger and Lenape peoples.
We remember that whatever sense of community we hold
comes at the expense of the historical and ongoing violation of
indigenous lands , bodies, and communities. We are aware that
while the current student body may represent a partial departure
from the historical norm, the intended purpose and originally
desired demographics of the school matter and additive diversity

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will never be liberatory. Vassar was created by wealthy white
men for wealthy white Protestant women to preserve an elite , but
still subservient , brand of traditional femininity. Since the first
group of students stepped foot on Vassar's campus in 1865 , the
college administration , influenced by Victorian-era expectations
of women, established paternalistic practices policing nearly
every aspect of the young women 's lives-cutting them off from
Poughkeepsie and the broader outside world. From its inception ,
the Vassar 'community ' was constructed to be isolated as a form
of protection for the young white female students' perceived
fragility from a broad , unnamed , external threat.
We see this vague , racialized threat embodied today in
the ways that Poughkeepsie is discussed on campus. Students
express their distance from the city only blocks away through
naming it as 'sketchy' or 'dangerous ' or, more subtly , displaying
their reluctance to leave campus or Arlington. There is a popular
and often reductionist perception of the "Vassar Bubble " and
an expressed desire to break down barriers between the school
and Poughkeepsie. But the institutional ways that we are offered
opportunities for engagement with the broader geographical
'community' often feel like a perpetuation of a salvivc approach
and more about adding to resumes and self-satisfaction than a
fundamental desire to share space and connect with folks.
We are in need of an overhaul of our rendering of Poughkeepsie
and Dutchess County residents as subjects to study or a
victimized demographic ripe for our intervention. This requires a
radical shift in our thinking to see us as meaningfully connected.
First , we can't think of the populations of Poughkeepsie and local
towns as an indistinct mass but realize there are a huge range
of people with frequently oppositional platforms and interests
and who we chose to try to build community with is in itself a
political act. Our engagements with the surrounding localities
must be established on a mutual desire to work together towards
a shared vision of a more just world and not a one-sided sense of
entitlement to spaces we were never invited into.
Acknowledgments of our privileged status as Vassar
students and Vassar's historically problematic role in shaping
Poughkeepsie and programs designed to redistribute the huge
mass of resources on this campus and funnel money out are
incredibly important. But we also don't necessarily need to see
ourselves as occupying an equal status or having access to the
same power structures to believe in a joint interest in working in
solidarity with one another to abolish the forms of subjugation

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: and carceral logics that govern
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our lives. Aboriginal activist
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Lila Watson's quote , although

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misapplied at times , still
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stands as a useful for guide
: for examining our motivations
: for 'community engagement':

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"If you have come here to help
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But if you have come because
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Part of this shift entails a questioning of how the language

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of community is employed internally on campus. The rhetoric
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of community featured in administrative emails , promotional
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material and advertisements for events presumes a common

: affinity between students , faculty , workers and administrators.

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To speak of a single "Vassar community" is to render us to

: some degree a homogenous group. The broadness of the term
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obscures difference and asks us to see ourselves as aligned with

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one another. It is often packaged with talk of shared values and

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descriptions of certain traits common to all Vassar 'community

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members'. While there are obviously certain commonalities

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between us by virtue of our attachment to the school and our
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lifestyles on some level are structured around the same things, it

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is simply not accurate to portray all students as holding a strong
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collective identity. Just because someone who has a building

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on campus named after their family eats in the same dining hall
: as to a low-income , first-generation student doesn 't mean the
: two share some unbreakable communal bond. We have to know

: that our dream of a world free of prisons, borders, authority, etc.

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is not necessarily a popular one among our peers. We share a
: school with an abundance of future corporate executives and
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people who value professionalism above all else. We are not

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and will never be in community in any real sense with Zionist

: students reporting anti-colonial work to administrators, repeated
: abusers who refuse to take accountability, hallmates who call
: security on black and brown students when they deem them
: too loud , etc., regardless of what President Bradley's emails
: suggest. The language of the Vassar community and the typical

: Vassar student is a language of exclusion that glosses over
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contradictory values and glaring differences in life experiences

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to create a false appearance of cohesion .




Beyond students , we wonder who else is meant to be included



in this supposed campus community. Does it encompass the



grounds, dining, custodial and other workers who maintain this

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campus's everyday operations? Are we seeing the folks who make
up this crucial, but often invisible, labor force as truly part of our
circles? And what about administrators? Are we really supposed
to buy into the idea that we are existing in some united group with
the people making half a million a year as many of us struggle to
come up with money for laundry and books? Can we believe the
economic success and public image of our corportatrized college
is congruent with our desire for liberation? How do we reckon with
the reality that administrative interests and the business of Vassar
are at odds with the best interest of students?
The community that Vassar purports to hold is one of
a forced affinity that offers no agency to students in choosing
who we want to be interdependent with. Again and again , the
term 'community ' is tossed around carelessly with undefined but
implicit borders of belonging. We need to start challenging the
empty romanticized rhetoric of community and ask the necessary
questions of who is included/excluded , in what ways are we
actively practicing community, and how do we see ourselves as
aligned or in opposition with one another. That doesn't mean we
should abandon our attachments to the conception of community
altogether. There may not be any single overarching Vassar
community, but there is certainly a need for more spaces that
center care and love and relationships on this campus. We wish to
rid ourselves of the pervasive Vassar coldness and appearance
of apathy, challenge social hierarchies and refusals to engage
with people outside certain circles , and work to support one
another enough to protect from the burnout so many experience
here. Community doesn 't have to be an abstract , but ultimately
meaningless , ideal. Relationality is at core of abolitionist work , and
we need to figure out how to create accountable communities .
While no one path forward is visible, it is clear to us that we
must seek out the best possible ways of being with one another
in a space that is incredibly hostile towards vulnerability and
tenderness. We want to be careful with each other so we can
be dangerous together. Knowing that it is our relationships that
sustain us through this place , let's determine how we can minimize
the exclusion inherent in community formation and consider how
and with who we can work towards a sustainable interdependence .

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24

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:

We often hear about the Vassar bubble, a barrier Vassar creates
around campus and in the minds of students that keeps them from
forming connections with people not a part of the community and
from thinking about things in ways that are profoundly challenging
to Vassar as an institution. A major part of this bubble is how Vassar
treats what is now being called the climate emergency, a "cascading
breakdown of the climate system due to unsustainable extractive
economic and social forces, posing an existential risk to humanity
and life on earth." The threat of climate change is so huge and
so fundamental to the balance of power in the world that Vassar
does not prepare students for what the future will actually be, a
future that will look very different from the world we perceive to be
living in now. Vassar does not teach its students that we are in an
unprecedented global emergency that demands we mobilize all our
society's resources to fight climate change. Nor does it explain that
the system of education, innovation, and scholarship which we enjoy
so much is created by the very things that are killing us--coal, oil, and
gas.
Failing to understand that the true source of Vassar's power is
fossil fuels, and that those fossil fuels are destroying our society,
is not merely negligence. It is a form of climate denial and is
reprehensible! Most colleges are complicit in this denial and it is

25

very important to recognize that commitments to decarbonizing
our institutions, though important and well meaning, are not acts of
heroism but the bare minimum that colleges can do.
At Vassar, even the bare minimum has come only after a long
struggle. Though environmental activism has been around for a long
time, the current era of activism started to 2012, when a group of
students began to push Vassar to divest its endowment from fossil
fuels. The early days of this campaign seem, in retrospect, absurdly
naive. One photo of an early protest shows a sign reading "We Trust
our Trustees." [Side note: Never Trust the Trustees!] After a few
years, though, it was clear that stronger action would be needed.
In the Spring of 2016 students engaged in a series of aggressive
actions that culminated in the occupation of Main building for 4
days and 3 nights. Students demanded divestment from fossil fuels,
a meeting with then-President Carthine "Cappy" Hill, and a hand
in restructuring key parts of the administration. The demand for
divestment was not met (President Bradely has since reiterated that
the board of trustees despise the idea) but the other ones were, and
out of this semester of high tension and pressure between students
and administrators came the 2016 Climate Action Plan, which
set a 2030 carbon neutrality goal. Much of the campus-focused
environmental organizing right now is directed toward meeting this
2030 goal.
Students for Equitable Environmental Decisions (SEED),has
been working closely with the administration through the Climate
Action and Sustainability Committee to make sure the college
develops a roadmap for going carbon neutral, a task that, we must
remember, requires large and highly technical changes to the
mechanical systems ~ "\
~
r _
1
that keep campus
;1 ,
l
, 1_
~;:::""""'
3
working. Without a t ~ ,._/)
i r ~'"Jv---/
~
good roadmap for
J .,. (}
,_::;
\ ~ ,_,
1\
how these technical
.,_,._,, 'I.=-~
__,.,_.J
changes can be made, any carbon neutrality commitment is
just nice words on a page. However, it is not students' role
to come up with the nitty-gritty aspects of the technical
plans; we can be involved in creating those plans in a myriad
of ways, but they are ultimately always going to be lead by
members of the school's staff. On the other hand, students
need to understand these plans enough to know when things
are going well, and when we need to raise hell to get them back on
track. Because of this, SEED is most powerful when it walks a line
between working with the administration on technical matters and
channeling the power of the student body.
A great example of this balance, as well as its pitfalls, is the fight
last semester over the Inn and Institute, a new building, paid for by
and the brainchild of a couple trustees, that will be built beside the
26

I?

alumni house and replace the Williams faculty housing. Purported
to be a space for engaging with the local community, it is really
a place for the Board of Trustees and rich prospective students
to stay when they visit campus. At its base the l&I is a classist
institution that tokenizes community engagement. In spite of
these problems, the Action Coalition decided that there was a lot
of momentum behind the project already and confined its outrage
to the simple fact that it would not be carbon neutral. In the Spring
of 2019, a newly formed group called the Climate Action Coalition
did a teach-in on the 1&1and circulated a petition demanding it be
carbon neutral. SEED also put pressure on the administration by
bringing up the issue in CASC meetings, and getting a seat at the
Inn and Institute planning committee meeting on sustainability.
The combination of activism outside the administration and
advocacy within has proven successful; this summer, the Inn and
Institute was announced to be combustion free, meaning it will
emit no greenhouse gasses directly. Energy will come from solar,
geothermal, and the electricity grid.
While this is a win, it is frankly absurd that a carbonized building
was even proposed in 2019. The very proposal earns President
Bradley and the Board of Trustee renewed disdain and proves that
without serious activism, Vassar will wiggle out of its most basic
commitments toward sustainability. The achievement of carbon
neutrality in a new building should not be celebrated. It should be
the bare minimum standard in a building that is, essentially, a vanity
project for a few trustees.
Going beyond this bare-minimum of sustainability and pushing
for environmental justice is difficult. How to build the kind of
grassroots power needed to take on entrenched power and redirect
its resources towards building a truly just and sustainable society
is the oldest question in the political activism book. And, given the
imminent, existential threat climate change poses to our civilization,
it's an unbelievably urgent question. If we want to do this as Vassar
students, we're going to have to redefine our ambitions and join in
with the suite of new international movements that are pressuring
governments across the world to take unprecedented action on
the climate emergency. These movements include the Global
Climate Strike, Extinction Rebellion, and the Sunrise Movement, all
of which have begun to establish themselves on campus, bringing
an effective, militant approach to center marginalized people in
environmental organizing. The kind of measured outrage these
movements organize is incredibly important both on all levels
of politics: campus, local, state, and national. While the climate
emergency is reaching a clear tipping point--act now or forever
lose your shit!--the opportunities for students to engage with
environmental groups organizing and rebelling at local, state, and
national levels have never been greater. Join the rebellion!
27



our

e 1s a
H<>VV

will

Y<>U

fight

back?

"The goal of the university has always been to train workers for the changing ne eds of capital. But at
least during the Golden Age of embedded liberalism, a fortuitous mix of steady economic growth,
cheap housing, and abundant cultural funding, a/I of which were indirectly sustained through worker
repress ion at home and imperial interventions abroad, a/lowed inte llectuals to exist on the fringe s of
the university and of capitalist economy in general. [The academics who} were instrumental in
channeling the democratic ex cess of the 1960s into re volutionary action against the oppression and
alienation of the military-industrial complex , had more in common with the bohemia than with the
professional manag erial class. The neolib e ral counter -revolution to fo/fow would make this kind of
co/laboration nearly impossible.

- Wanda Vrasti, "Mic Check/Reality Check "

The university
university

adm inist rators

neo l iberal
theories

econo

guid ing

m ists

le accusation
pr inciple,

the

whose

fact . The

than

univers ity, these
like any

it seeks to maximize

and ultimately
customers

a

a foundationa l

parties assert, is a "firm"
other:

and

For

guide them, this is less a

contestab
social

is a corporation.

profit

exists to prov ide its

(students/fam ilies) with a

service -- the "college experience"

and a degree -- which, in the boardroom

and trustee meeting alike , boils down to nothing more than a commodity

exchange.
It is this model of un iversity organization
mercantile

-- "neutral",

-- that has made way for the complete

calculated,

abdication of the

political from the university's guiding principles . The universities of the
past were organized around a set of values, alm ost un iversally exclus ionary -Vassar, for examp le, was instituted

to incu lcate wealthy white women with

the mores and know ledge of 19th century Christian high soc iety, including
courses in the traditional,

male -dominated

28

liberal arts alongside

practical

seminars in domestic
and

the

etiquette

management

of

househo ld servants.
But rather than changing
guiding
reflect

principles
a truly

social,

-

structuring

mission

-

to

their
better

hopeful
the

university around inclusion and
possibility -

the contemporary

corporate

university

abandoned
political

any

and

altogether.

has

notion

of

socia l "va lues"

Rather than existing

to fulfill a stated political

aim,

the university wraps itself in the
gauzy

and

language
pushing policies to the active detriment
both inside and outside

the university

issues, faculty

that

proclaim

uncontroversial

of "inclusion"

of the most marginalized

while
peop le

gates. When pressed on political

they are "scho lars (or administrators,

not

activists"; they refuse to take any expressly political stance whi le ignoring
the fact that prevai ling politics of our time granted , that

go

unquestioned,

that

the ideologies that we take for

guide

every

single

one

of their

are by their essential nature political. "The university,"
administrators cry, "is an educationa l institution, not a politica l one!"
decisions

-

We ask: Political? When has the distribution

and production

the issue of who has access to it and who doesn't,
administration

of know ledge,

the supervision

and

of massive nepotistic networks of resources and support, the

decision as to what is worth learning and how students deserve to be living

-

been anything but?
The

surrounding

20th
the

century

shift

aims of the

towards
university

sweeping wave of corporatization

myopic,
has been

depo liticized

rhetoric

accompanied

in the institution's administrative

structure . When we say that the un iversity has been "corporatized",
mean that university administration

by a

has increasingly adopted
29

we

a hierarchical,

calculated

mode l of governance

exported

corporate

management.

"trustee"

for board member, "dean"

directly

from

Though the tit le of "President"

the

world

of

stands in for CEO ,

for manager, their ro les are the same

by design; the corporate university is a financier in a ratty tweed suit , a sleek
executive

board room in the stern, dark-wood

guise of a college

Values have been replaced with financial imperatives;
missions have been usurped by a calculated, competitive

social, philanthropic
impetus to simp ly

stay afloat. All decisions are made in a hierarchical, top-down
Though

they

"community",

bu i Id their

rhetoric

Vassar and other corporatized

out

parlor.

around

fashion.
a notion

of

universities couldn't structure

their operations in a less "communal" way. In a 2015 Boilerplate Magazine
(an alternative campus magazine worth reading) interview, a senior financial
administrator

at laid bare Vassar's hostility towards student activism, detai ling

the fact that students have no legal control over Vassar's investments, and

are

limited

to

expressing

their

demands through "influence and
persuasion,

not

voting

and

power". All major changes which
could possibly be rendered through
the activities of bodies like the VSA
must

first

board

of

be

approved

trustees,

substantive

values

of

mutuality,
structure
such
about

the
any

a near

believe

that

a

shou ld be based on
shared
and

distribution

making

change

impossib ility. We
"community"

by

governance,
horizontal

UNIVER51TY

of power, but Vassar's
cou ldn't

lie further

goa ls; students
the

same

have

influence

A5 fACTORY

from
just
and

recourse as customers at a massive
corporate

restaurant.

We

can

complain, boycott, threaten to stain the institution's pub lic image to reduce
future profits; most importantly, we can stage disruptions to force change

and conversation to the forefront of the campus climate . But, like most
consumer activism , the potential for achieving real change is limited without

30

focusing on the larger structural issues behind the institut ion's il ls; we want

power and responsibility, not a "customer suggestions" box.
Why fight against the corpo ratization of Vassar? Ou r school is sti ll high ly
ranked,

and

subsidized

manages

to

p rov ide

its services effectively;

many

of us,

by financial aid, are essent ially pa id to study here. But even if

many of us aren't

necessari ly v icti ms, we are all losers in the p rocess.
Cons ider

the

new

Bridge

for

Laboratory Sciences, which opened
in January 2016 at an expense to
the tune of $90 mil lion (a ful l tenth


of

Vassar's

ent ire

endowment,

which dec lined precipitously
the

same period).

While

during
Vassar's

science equip ment was likely due
for

an

upgrade,

according

for m er

President

Hi ll , a major

reason
secu re Vassar's p lace at the forefront
fields play an increas ing ly important

fo r this

bui lding

to

was to

of a modern economy whe re STEM
role. Students had no real power to

determine whether or not this building was to be constructed. Yet, we
bear the consequences of the construction costs. When we are to ld that
the school simply lacks the
adequate
mental

funding
health

adequate

for

se rv ices,

wo r k-study

wages, increased financia I
aid,

and

resources

to

confront the host of socia l
and political
on

campus,

recognize
what

issues boi ling

it

this
is and

we

must

fa lsity for
tel l the

admin istrat ion that we see
everyday where the money went! The administration cannot hide-they

chose to have a state-of-the-art

science center rather than devote our

finances to racial awareness training for security; they chose to produce

31

"leaders of a future economy" rather than the citizens of a liberated
society.
And it is not just at Vassar, but across the country and the wor ld- by
ignoring our c laims, fining us, suspending
they are simply acting
petulant

us, and all the whi le stating that

in our best interest,

chi ldren, wh ile covertly eroding

administration

treats us like

our right to any contro l over the

circumstances of our lives. Despite living at the co llege for up to 4 years, we

are told that we have no right to directly determine the manner in which
we will live and grow. Even more shameful is the fact that th is same log ic
and contro l is suffered by Co llege workers and faculty who labor (and for
many facu lty, live) at Vassar for decades. The administration will rarely

share -- or even understand -- our aims. The administration

that wi ll not

recognize our right to de mocratic control. Thus, we must face the necessity
of struggle - for the administration

w ill not fight for us.
From the Quebec
of

2012,

divestment

the

student strike

South

African

movement,

peace

activ ists during the Vietnam War,
May

1968

occupations

French

university

and

Civ il Rights

activists of 60s-

students

have

we know that
successfully

struggled
before . Vassar
students have always been a of
that strugg le, often occupying

the forefront

of the movement.

We must

never forget 1968, when 34 Black women occupied Main Building and
won the Africana Studies major. We must never forget the Vassar
students who faced $1000 fines and disciplinary action for protesting
our investments in South Africa. And we must remember that the
educationa l system is the site where the economy's next generation of
workers and citizens are produced.

It is where we can begin to imagine a

new soc iety. Vassar wants to prepare us for the economy

of our present

society; we wish to be prepared to build a new and better society . Thus
this strugg le is greater than us; the struggle for power in our schools is

part of the struggle for liberation , nationally and internationally!

32

POLICING BORDERS; SEX AND SECURITY
By now. you've endured a mu ltitude of presentations about your
safety at Vassar. Members of Safety & Security have stressed the
importance of their role and assured you of their capabilities to defend
you and your property against unnamed external threats . You've
probab ly been inst ructed to put the Campus Response Center (CRC)
in your phone more times than you can remember. You've likely had
a litany of college rules rattled off to you . But these presentations
don't give the full picture of what security looks like here . Left out of
orientation programming is a meaningful consideration of who's safety
we are prioritizing and at what cost . Vassar Safety & Security employs
vague, neutra l language to define their role, sanitizing their po licing
practices as in the interest of "providing a safe, peaceful campus" . But
we know all too well that campus secu rity, like all police forces, has
been and always will be a racist project that wo rks to defend private
property and the colonial settler state .
As a historical women's college, we can't have a discussion on
security at Vassar without ta lking about patriarchal protection for white
cis elite women . Sex, sexual violence and race are at the center of the
narrative of safety . Vassar looks to secu re the campus from outside
"threats" to their students, and being located in Poughkeepsie, NY, a
predominantly Black working class town, those threats are understood
as the Black men looking to potentially violate these women . Vassar
was built with a paterna listic commitment to "security" for these
vulnerable white women. The co llege began as one building, Main
Building, where students were able to live upstairs, ta ke classes
downstairs, get their mail at the mailroom and eat their dinner in the
dining space. Students were regu lated with strict schedule, expected
to follow curfew, and had to obtain written permission to make the
short trip into town on their own. A stone wall was built around the
campus and the single entrance through the Main Gate ensured that
the school knew just who was entering, and strict rules rega rding
signing guests in ensured the schoo l knew exact ly who was in the
Main Building. The violability of the young, white, Victorian era women

33

warranted such security, and the reproduction of wea lth, whiteness,
and traditional femininity made them worth protecting .
As the schoo l expanded, went co-ed in the 1970s, and became
more liberal with policies surrounding curfews, guests, and the like, it's
managed to sustain itself as a "white space." Yes, campus populations
are much more diverse today, howeve r, insofar as they commit
themselves to the maintenance of the university, professionalism,
and white civi l society, they're not necessarily threatening to the
perception of community. The moment one diverges from the
standards of respectabi lity expected to be upheld by all that step foot
on the libera l arts campus, they become subject to the scrutiny of
security. A raised voice, a baggy sweatshirt, Under President Catherine
"Cappy" Hill, our campus became "open". This means than on pape r,
anyone can enter and walk around without showing ID. This measure
is hugely important in tearing down campus walls. Yet, that openness,
partnered with demographic changes of students more broad ly,
means the campus is thought to be more difficult to police from this
sort of unknown threat to "our community ." The threat is racialized
and understood as already being present on campus, whether it be
students, staff and faculty who do not carry themselves with the same
sort of brand of whiteness and passive intellectualism as Vassar wants,
or be those who are now allowed to enter the campus walls without ID.
Vassar Safety & Security wil l only cal l Poughkeepsie police into
campus in cases where they believe theft is taking place . The "threat"
is a question of private property. And these potentially threatening
people, the "something" are anyone who doesn't look like a Vassar
community member ie. anyone who isn't white and/or doesn't meet
arbitrary standards of respectabi lity. Our Latinx activist friends in
Poughkeepsie talk about how they've been approached by Vassar
secu rity when they've been on campus to speak or meet with
students. Students call security on other Black students who are
doing their laundry. Is racially profiling people and protecting private
property what we mean by safety?

MILITARIZATION/PLAYING POLICE
In recent years we've seen a significant change in the people
"securing" our campus. Vassar's Safety and Security Department
continues to morph and becomes more militarized each yea r. Instead
of simply having "workers" and "managers" the department insists on
calling its workers, "officers", and managers, "sergeants." The number
of sergeants continues to grow. as does their fleet of security cars,
the size of their office, and their security budget. Vassar is one of only
a handfu l of colleges with security staff assigned to patro l dorms at
night . With no escape from the constant hum of their excessive fleet
of Honda CRVs driving around and the muffled chatter of their radios

34

echoing into our dorm rooms as we go to sleep, Campus Safety and
Security reminds that someone is always watching. The majority of
the sergeants and workers are themse lves former police officers,
state troopers, and prison guards. The listing of a background in law
enforcement as a preferential qualification for a position at Vassar
reveals a desire to replicate the white supremacist violence and utter
disregard for humanity intrinsic to American policing in the structure of
security on campus.
While the unarmed Vassar security officers' ability to free ly enact
vio lence is certainly far more restricted than the typical American
cop, the line between the fo lks patrolling our schools and the
police occupying our neighborhoods continues to blur. We've seen
our peers and those perceived as 'outsiders' at other institutions,
particularly larger public schools, be assaulted and slain by the same
campus security forces claiming to act in the interest of their safety.
We remember Scout Schultz at Georgia Tech. We remember Jason
Washington at Portland State University. We remember Samuel
DuBose at University of Cincinnati. And we haven't forgotten about the
UC Davis pepper spray cop nor the brutality of the baton-wielding UC
Berkeley police during the remova l of the Occupy Cal encampment.
These incidents remind us that we cannot rely on campus security
forces to protect us and that no matter how progressive a college
purports to be, security forces will turn on us the moment we assert
our collective power and present a disruption to the normal functioning
of the modern university.
Vassar's Safety & Security, despite not having reached the levels
of militarization seen at police forces at larger universities, attempts
to emulate those same po licing practices and assume the same air of
authority . Of course, it's important to acknowledge that they are not
cops and certain security officers are friendly in their interactions with
students. But this isn't about individual character. We reject the logic
that just because the fo lks patrolling our campus could be worse, we
shou ldn't disagree w ith the underlying administrative approach and
methods of campus security. And claims of security's willingness to
resort to force in tense situations and long-standing practice of racial
profi ling aren't baseless accusations. We've seen more than enough
troubling conduct from Vassar security to know that the ir vision of
what makes a safe campus is incongruent with ours .
In Apri l 2014, the campus erupted in outcry and debates over racial
profiling after security was called on four black teenage boys from
Poughkeepsie making too much noise in the library . Security, in turn,
called Poughkeepsie po lice when a couple of the boys couldn't provide
ID. An officer visited one of the teenagers a few days later at school,
questioning him about phones stolen on campus and instructing him
to never return to Vassar. Following this and an essay written by former
Vassar Professor Kiese Laymon tit led "My Vassar College Faculty ID
35

Makes Everything OK" about his experience with racia l profi ling on
and near campus, the school hired a private firm, Margolis Healy and
Associates, to investigate Safety & Security. Their report, presented
that fall, found insuffienct empirical evidence to conclude racial
profi ling was taking place and provided a set of reccomendations for
Safety & Security to become more in line with federal po licies and
other campus police forces. The events also prompted the hiring
of Arlene Sabo, the former Chief
Police Officer at SUNY Plattsburgh
rumored to be pushed out
for creating a host ile
=
=
work environment, as
,~
,JHO 00 Yl)u PROTU.T?
the new Director of
'L_____/
Security. These steps
..
do not put a stop to
the harassment of
people of color on
campus but further
integrate law enforcement standards and methods into the mission of
Vassar security.
Last December, students received multiple alerts about the threat
of 13 year-old boys wandering around campus harassing people
and attempting to stea l. The messages relayed that campus patrols
wou ld be enhanced in response and po lice investigation wou ld follow,
as if providing the assurance that these kids would have their lives
disrupted by the crimina l justice system makes this campus safer. In
the past few years, campus security has tack led and broke the ankle
of a student tripping on acid, berated students of color for being too
loud, and profiled count less community members . These patterns
inform us that even though security may not have the same power or
arms , they fundamentally behave as cops. And accordingly, cannot be
trusted.

RISK MANAGEMENT & DATA FOCUS
The risk of being sued for not complying with Title IX and federal
policies pertaining to racial profiling, sexual violence, and other ways in
which the school becomes responsible for the well-being of students
becomes the focus of campus security. As the primary interest of the
modern university is minimizing its own liability rather than challenging
a climate that enables sexual assault , security becomes abso rbed
in bureaucratic risk-management practices that often revio late the
rights of those who report an assault. With Title IX policies creating
an additional requirement for campus security, protecting the campus
becomes a project of knowing the threats in all new ways.
To best navigate this always present threat and retain federa l

36

funding, campus security looks to practices reminiscent of the War
on Terror and Homeland Security in order. The college creates the
procedures and increases surveillance for mass data collection, they
map the campus with that information. and look to further police it
in relation to such. The 2014 Margolis Healy report made this even
more of a priority as it stressed the need for the increased collection
of information and use of databases to improve security operations
on campus. In the last few years, Vassar decided to add names to the
campus streets. numbers on all of the buildings. and has changed
their approach to monitoring campus activity. Collecting a report or
writing a student up becomes the task at hand for VC security, even
if that means writing students up for a candle in their room as the
student asks for Emergency Medica l Services (EMS). Or breaking down
a student's door because she's not responding to their initial knocks .
These are actions taken by "Safety and Security" in the last few years
at Vassar and are done because "if I didn't report the candle and the
dorm burned down the school would be liable ."

LATERAL SURVEILLANCE
Security alerts often conclude with a reminder of the "integral role"
students play in campus security. We are told that while we should
refrain from reporting behavior based solely upon race, religion,
gender etc., we should inform security of anything we witness that
may be "crimina l in nature" . This statement neglects the fact that
what is perceived as being inherently criminal has always been directly
informed by race, religion, gender etc. Without unpacking the deep
association between crimina lity and blackness. race-neutral pleas for
us document 'criminal' activity reinforce anti-black violence . Vassar
security , following the lead of the state's historical reliance on white
civil lian's desire to participate in extralegal and white supremacist
policing to disempower black peop le and keep communities of color
under watch. assigns much of the work maintaining a persistent sense
of surveillance to the student body .
Students are called upon to participate
IllSAf[TY
&SleURllY,
in the surveillance and administering of their
/'OL/KlTO
Rl/JORT
peers . Campus security offers work study
A$U$/J/CIOU$
INOIVIOUAL
positions in which students , equipped with
a walkie talkie, sit in dorms at night and
survey the flow of people, intermittently
patrolling the halls. We have the opportunity
to sit on judiciary boards that determine
consequences and enact punishments of
individuals and student orgs . Students are

instructed to lock their doors, never let
anyone you don't recognize into a dorm , and

37

report "suspicious individuals"
who we see loitering . We are
made to always be on guard
and always vigilant.
But when we call security
on our hallmates for being
too loud, hire them to act
as guards at our events, or
• ,
report behavior perceived as
suspicious, we are disp laying a
willingness to turn to an externa l
authority to dictate the lines of
belonging and punish those who fa ll
out of them . This eagerness to regulate
fellow students' adherence to college norms hinders our ability to
ho ld each other accountable when real harm is done . These latera l
surveillance practices undercut our abilities to trust one another,
instead promoting a permanent state of racialized hostility and
suspicion . Rather than allowing ourselves to be used as volunteer cops
and resorting to retributive mechanisms of control, we need to kind le
a popu lar desire to work through the messiness of sharing space with
one another in all our complexities.

CONCLUSION
When we ta lk about "school safety" we have to ask, "safety for
whom?" and "safety from what?" What do we actually mean when we
say "is this campus safe?" What do we actually want in a safe campus?
And how do we address actual threats to our peers? We do not have
a singu lar vision of what this could look like but we know the role of
Safety & Security is utterly incompatible with the sort of radical and
unconditional care we would like to see in our interactions with each
other. Trained to police and punish, Vassar security does not have
the ability the hand le crises appropriate ly or support us in our most
vulnerable times.
We cannot see Vassar as our ally or protector, and we refuse to
let ou r stories become justification for additional cops on campus.
Ultimately, we wi ll face different forms of harm and violence and our
task is to reduce harm on campus . This is not something that will not
be done by Vassar security nor our administration . Refuse to be an
extension of campus surveillance and policing apparatuses. Take care
of each other so we can be dangerous together.

38



to c an e ever
1n
'
start an
ere
We know this college is a corporation, a bourgeois invention, part
of a sustained colonial project; in no way can/should we wait
around for someone to further prove that this place is fucked It's
time to draw the lines and begin acting immediately . We need to
create a culture of dissonance, where actions happen and spark
further action .
here are some subtle, silly & potentially important actions to
take:
- start rumors of campus uprising, false tips to security, let them
take things into their "evidence closet"
- play on insecurities of faculty: "prove it"
- try out Sobriety
- post pb's house up for rent on zillow
-yelp reviews are w/o question effective. get to work reviewing
ur local zionist print shop, your corporate university, & your local
gentrifying businesses
- start an antifa chapter. institutionalize it, antifa needs a pres,
vp, secretary, regional coordinator, treasurer, pr team, etc.
make sure it's on your resume, linked in, and handshake account.
- throw a warehouse party or maybe a rave at roosevelt's house.
- remember, there's nothing at vc to have fomo about
- cc cuomo & meryl streep on all campus communications (bee
others the bee is so satisfying)
- remember, res life is yr landlord & we're all for the abolition of
landlords
- venmo request yr first vc crush for wasting your youth
- cherish your youth and beauty
- tip at the deece
- scream and throw milkshakes
- catfish using pies of vc security
- sign the vc matriculation book w your blood
- host photo shoots for ur seeking arrangement accounts the
same days as linkedin profile photo cdo opportunities
- make & distribute fake v cards
- leave econ dept windows open & a little food inside & let
squirrel comrades take the lead ( s/o rat comrades also)
- hack/ scam
- make all events you help organize "no boys allowed"

-





- Join arrrrrg
-dump him
- remember that you owe this institution absolutely nothing.
- tip off peta that animal testing occurs in the science center and
annually vassar slaughters an unreal amount of deer
- lol pull a hampshire college
- know that "something came up," "i was processing," and "i just
threw up" have all proven to work as excuses for late work or
tardiness/absence
- coordinate a "good night alt right" fitness dass I
- make good security culture your personal brand
- ask if canary mission will make you a profile -only campus elite
have profiles I!
- sign up to be the camps koch brother rep you really can make an
unreal amount of money
- submit / display your art at the loeb
- allude to the inherent downfall of the corporate university & to
the united states of america
- install a hot tub in ur dorm bathroom
- be gay by may (at the very least)
- take confrontation to totally new realms / places previously
impossible
- speak up
- make a scene
- remember that it's okay to steal from rich people
- understand that if your activist efforts end w having been
annoying, silly, fun, or friendship forming, that's actually really
fucking good
- file osha reports when things on campus seem "unsafe"
- publish stories in the pok journal
- get back on the misc's investigative journalism I read up about
the former women's center x gay center's previous embezzlement
efforts lmao
- buy a hot tub ?
- refuse to see the university as a place of enlightenment
- destroy fascism ;)
- disrupt the surveillance state: use yr 999 neighbor's id when you
get in trouble
- chain urself to the deece
- unionize vc athletes and start a strike
- arm the campus bear
- show up to dinners at PB's house and read the anarchist
cookbook silently at the table
- make vassar a trades school
- clean sunset lake
- get a good night's sleep <3

/

This land, the land that Vassar and the surrounding towns of
Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls, and Hyde Park all sit on, is land
that was stolen from the people native to it when European colonizers
arrived on this continent and began settling the land. The Mahican,
the Lenape, the Munsee, and the Wappinger indigenous communities
lived on, worked with, and had unique relationships to this land for
hundreds of years before the violence of settler colonialism pushed
them out.
In 1609 European colonizers sailed past the banks of what is
now Poughkeepsie for the first time exploring north on the Hudson.
Despite the indigenous communities living there, the Dutch and
English colonizers spent the next hundred years settling the land on
either side of the Hudson, with the town of Poughkeepsie beginning
to grow toward the end of the 17th century. Importantly, the
indigenous communities continued to exist during this time despite the
threat they were up against. The Europeans brought disease, actively
sought to take and own the land the Native folks and their ancestors
lived on, and viewed Indigenous people and their culture as distinctly
other.
Because the settler-colonial project is to conquer, to acquire and
accumulate property, and ultimately to get rid of those who stood
in the way (ie the indigenous communities living on their ancestral
lands), relationships between the colonizers and the indigenous
communities were inherently violent. The indigenous peoples were
pushed out and killed in an attempt to erase them from this region.
And yet these are still the ancestral lands of the Wappinger, the
Lenape, the Munsee, and the Mahican and Native communities have
survived and continue to fight ongoing colonialism and erasure. So to
keep acknowledging that, to keep in mind that this land was stolen,

41

1

is to challenge and disrupt what settler colonialism aims to do: to
eradicate these cultures deemed "other" and "savage."
More than just being on a campus built on stolen land, likely
built through stolen labor, we must also address how Vassar
and the American university as an institutional machine produce
violence toward Indigenous folks as well. The western university
doesn't make space for Native ways of knowing and being. In
fact, universities have long legitimized the portrayal of indigenous
peoples as uncivilized. Education has always been tied up in settler
colonial projects with missions and boarding schools playing a
crucial role in the attempted cultural genocide of Native peoples.
Many of the first institutions of higher education in the U.S.
expanded on this and sought to teach elite Native students who
could spread the European values and customs they learned to their
own people to assimilate the entire population.
But indigenous people and their knowledge and expertise
historically haven't been accepted into the discourse of the western
university . While there is an invasive anthropological fascination
with the perceived exoticism of Native communities, prestigious
institutions have had much less interest in supporting indigenous
scholars writing their own stories. Native students have organized
for representation in college curriculums since the 1960s but
Native American Studies continues to lack widespread institutional
backing as a discipline. Beth Leonard, in her article concerning
indigenous struggles in the academy, points out that the separation
of knowledges through department lines is incompatible with the
holistic nature of studying indigenous knowledges . She writes that
indigenous knowledge is "not only about the cultural and social
inherited tradition, or only about the land and the physical space,
but it is also about whiteness and privilege, and systems of power
like colonization and how these interact with and continue to
colonize indigenous knowledge systems." Vassar has just a couple
Native faculty members and a tiny handful of Native students .
Most academic departments do nothing to implement Native
methodologies or feature indigenous voices. It is important to reflect
on how the settler colonial project attempts to teach you certain
ways to think, certain ways to learn, certain ways to know. The
settler colonial project excludes other kinds of expertise in order to
maintain itself. However, indigenous knowledges help us understand
the power structures of our world better and give us tools to
challenge the settler colonial project. It is our job to uplift Native
epistemologies and voices to disrupt the powers that be.

42

e wish we could say we haven't spent numerous
nights in the after hours section of the library, seen
many friends sob due to a ridiculous amount of
assignments, or witnessed a plethora of students
passed out on library desks due to severe levels of exhaustion.
We wish we hadn't heard many students say they can't wait
for the weekend so they can finally get drunk enough to forget
these stressors. Unfortunately, we cannot. College burnout,
isolation, and mental health problems are a reality across
college campuses, and at Vassar. "Burning out" entails various
symptoms, including, but not limited to: insomnia, concentration
issues, chronic fatigue, a weakened immune system, isolation,
hopelessness, and a lack of productivity. The most insidious part
of "Burnout Culture" is that no matter how self-aware one is of
the destructive effects of working up until the point of exhaustion,
the amount of work and pressure our institution places on us
students makes it seemingly impossible to escape the cycle.
Our college fabricates an impossible standard of excellence
based upon the expectation of juggling classes, classwork, work
(putting extra pressure on low-income students), sleep, and a
social life. This standard makes it challenging to find time for
oneself.
44

Burnout Culture generates shame and cognitive
distortions of one's weakness. It is easy to sink into the
mentality that "everyone in college balances work, academics,
extracurricular, social life and mental health, while I am barely
scraping by." The truth is, if you turn to the person next to you
in class, they are most likely also freaking out about that seven
page paper due Friday.
We must reject the abelist notion that being unable
to work (due to various mental health problems precipitated
by burnout) is a sign that one is lazy. Instead, we need to
recognize that our campus environment normalizes the idea
that a natural part of college life is a chronic state of stress. We
must dismantle the idea-that our university promotes-that
our productivity equates to our worth. We should not spend
our days worrying if our grades will land us a well-paying job,
nor let our institution run a college that is merely a factory that
produces efficient workers to further our capitalistic society.
Instead, we must value college for what it really is: a time of
growth, self-discovery, and, most importantly, a place to form
life-long connections.

Loneliness
It's currently orientation week, and you are most likely scouting
every person's face in the Deece wondering who is going to
become your new best friend.
You were told that Vassar's small campus ensures that
you will not be washed away in a sea of tens of thousands of
people. As true as that may be, Vassar's small student body can
make first-years feel as if there's a ticking time bomb about to
go off unless you immediately find your ideal friend group.
Let's make this clear: the belief that "everyone has found
their squad" is nothing more than a myth. During orientation
week you will see groups of people sitting together, and you
might thing fuck, another friend group that I'm not a part of. The
truth is that those people will likely never hang out as a group
again. The truth is that you probably have no idea who you are
when you first enter college, so how are you supposed to know
which people are the right ones for you?
45

Over the course of your first year, you will change, grow,
and eventually find the right people for you. The one thing to
remember is that there is no time limit to solidify your college
identity.

Visit Metcalf ... But Don't Depend on it
Before graduation nearly half of all students will have
sought help or advice from the staff of Vassar's Counseling
Service. While Vassar pushes the narrative that they offer free
mental health services, writing on their website, "If it is a problem
to you, then it is a problem to us," a visit to Metcalf makes it
clear that it is merely a "good-jumping-off-place"
for addressing
student's concerns. A shortage of staff in Metcalf creates a
system where weekly free therapy is impossible to receive. This,
in turn, makes it difficult to maintain a close relationship with your
assigned therapist.

Alternative Ways of Addressing Burnout










Take a break: Leave the library and meet up with some friends
- our small campus makes it easy to find distractions
Talk to your Professors: Many Professors understand the
immense stress we are placed under and offer extensions for
work.
Don't buy into the "your GPA is indicative of your worth"
mentality. Who you are, what you do, and how you treat
people (and yourself!) is infinitely more important than a
number.
Join an organization! It is a great way to make friends and to
realize that getting good grades is not the only way to be a
"good college student." (if joining an org feels like too much
effort do not put pressure on yourself to do so)
Sleep!!!!!!
Talk to friends-it is more than likely that your fellow peers are
struggling with similar stressors as you do- talking to them
can make you realize that you are not alone nor too weak to
handle college.

46

'7hesloganontheLeft,then,'universities,
notjails,'marksa choice
thatmaynotbe possible.Inotherwords,perhapsmoreuniversities
promotemorejails.Perhapsit isnecessaryfinallyto see thattheuniversity
producesincarceration
as theproductof itsnegligence.Perhapsthereis
anotherrelationbetweenthe UniversityandthePrison-beyondsimple
oppositionorfamilyresemblance-thatthe undercommons
reservesas
theobjectandinhabitationof anotherabolitionism.''
-Stefano HarneyandFredMoten
In April 2015, a group of up to
20 guards known around Fishkill
Correctional Facility as the "Beat
Up Squad" descended upon Samuel
Harrell, a 30 year-old black mai1
suffering from delusions and bipolar
disorder. The officers shouted racial
epitl1ets, shoved Harrell down a flight
of stairs, and according to one witness,
"jumped on him like a trampoline" .
These repeated blows resulted in his
death. But when paramedics arrived,
they were told Harrell had overdosed
on synthetic marijuana. Although a
medical examination disproved this
and 19 other Fishkill prisoners came
forward with testimony implicating
the guards and describing a rampant
culture of abuse within the facility,
prosecutors refused to file charges.
All this occurred just 14 miles from
campus.
Vassar sits in a hub of prisons. With
16 state prisons and one federal prison
within a 60 mile distance from the
school, the school is surrounded by
facilities with a combined capacity to
incarcerate 16,824 people . New York,

4

mirroring practices around the country,
has constructed the bulk of its prisons
in small, overwhelmingly white and
often conservative towns dependent on
the facilities to employ large sectors of
the population and generate needed
revenue in the wake of industrial
decline. State prisoners, the majority of
which are black and brown and from
New York City, are shipped upstate to
be warehoused in facilities hundreds
of miles from their families and
communities.
But when admissions materials
talk about the "scenic Hudson Valley"
surrounding Vassar, prisons are erased
from our mental map. Prisoners,
often considered socially dead and a
sort of uncomfortable underside to
the business-as-usual functioning of
society, are forgotten about in the
imagination of those of us with few
personal connections to them, including
a good portion of Vassar students and
administrators. Samuel Harrell's death
at the hands of 20 Fishkill Correctional
Officers did not speak a substantial
outcry at Vassar. Neither did Anthony

Myrie's at Greene Correctional Facility
in Coxsackie last spring. Or Benjamin
Van Zandt's suicide after being placed
in solitairy confinement at Fishkill
in 2014. There wasn't a lot of talk in
2013 about the brutal assault of Kevin
Moore at Downstate by two guards.
The hundreds of reports of "sexual
misconduct" by New York Department
of Corrections staff members, routine
use of 23-hour solitar y confinement
on thousands, and many deaths due
to medical negligence that happen
every year don't get much attention on
campus either. Tl1is is not to say there
is not considerable discussion at Vassar
around prison abolition or no history
of prisoner solidarity organizing here.
There are a lot of people who care
and are there is notable work being
done around incarceration. But we
lack a real widespread consciousness
of our positionality towards the
prison-industrial complex. We are
not committed to cutting our direct
ties to companies that profit from the
prison industry or towards advancing
the movement to
eliminate prisons and ~
a society that could •
have them.
In popular
discourse, we position
the university and
the prison as isolated
sites . One houses the expendables, the
hardened criminals, the untouchables
and the other, the nation's best and
brightest young people, the future
leaders. With mantras like "education
not incarceration" , these institutions
can appear entirely oppositional. While
we certainly would like to see tl1e end
of incarceration and a sh ift towards
increased accessibility to education,
this analysis negates a symbiotic
relationship between the university

and the pri son-indu strial complex.
Universities are complicit in building
and sustaining the carceral systems
preying on so many poor, black, brown,
and trans people. The ties between the
two institutions, including economic
investments, complementary missions,
and the production of knowledge
that legitimizes the existence of both,
operate in both overt and subtle ways
and are hugely important to unpack
if we are really interested in working
towards a world without prisons.
Student organizers at more and
more colleges across the country are
calling attention to their schools'
enablement of the incarceration of 2.3
million people in the United States
through their financial holdings.
l11 2015, Columbia became the first
school to divest from the private
prison industry after a student s
organized an impressive campaign
to demand trustees pull the school's
endowment from investments in
G4S and Corrections Corporation of
America. The UC system followed
su it after student
,a pressure, selli ng $30

million in holidings
in the Geo Group,
G4S and Corrections
Corporation of
America. Student
organizers at Harvard
and a dozen other schools have now
also taken up the demand that their
universities divest from the prisonindustrial complex.
Vassar is likely to have at least a
smal l part of its l1undreds of millions
of dollars worth of investments tied
up in some companies involved in the
business of caging people as well. We
may not hold shares in the corporations
that directl y run private prisons but
the concept of the prison-industrial

complex involves so much more than
the rel atively small portion of private
facilities. It calls for an analysis of the
prison industry that includes all of
the companies that profit from prison
labor and do business with corrections
and law enforcement departments.
From tl1e private entities making
money off of unaffordable phone
services inhibiting prisoners' ability
to connect to their loved ones to the
manufacturers of prisoner's jumpsuits,
there is a large sum of businesses with
a stake in continuing to throw huge
numbers of folks behind bars. We can't
know for sure what sort of human
rights abuses our school is backing
through its investment portfolio as
information about our l1oldings is
not public ly available, but we haven't
received any assurances that Vassar is
not fi11ancially interested in a thriving
prison industry despite an outward
academic interest in criminal justice

issues.
Until the remodeling of the
Deece in 2017, Vassar contracted food
service management out to Aramark,
a company that serves food to more
than 500 correctional facilties across
the country and has been subject to
complaints about maggots and rocks,
sexual harassment, drug trafficking
and other employee misconduct. The
end of the contract did not necessarily
come as an important step towards
divestment for Vassar. Now, we rely on
Bon Appetit management, paying $6
million a year to its parent company,
Compass Group which also has a stake
in the prison food industry. As the
largest contract food service company
in the world, Compass Group profited
from the sale of and retains substantial
shares in Trinity Services Group, a food
service provider to prisons and jails.
The company has also come under fire

for overcharging for meals in New York
City schools and serving food to seven
Canadian correctional facilities that
tested positive for a serious infectious
bacteria. This school has also always
held a close relationship with IBM, a
company that relies on prison labor to
manufacture some of its prodcuts.
The contracts and investments
Vassar and many colleges hold are
only the most visible ways in which
institutions of higher education relate
to the expansive American project of
imprisonment. Like prisons, colleges
help maintain social order. In its
punitive practices and language of
security, Vassar borrows from the
criminal justice system. No broad false
equivalencies should be drawn between
the treatment of a predominantly
white and wealthy class of liberal
arts students on a beautiful campus
and the treatment of prisoners who
have so many of their basic human
rights violated on a daily basis. One
population is to be protected, the other
is made out to be the racial threat that
justifies such protection. However,
the campus does seek to replicate
the technologies of control employed
in the prison to regulate tl1e people
who study, work, and live here. As
Harvery and Moten remind us, the
university cannot be the opposite of
the prison as they are "both involved
in their way with the reduction and
command of the social individual"
(Undercommons, 42). This disciplinary
power sees its embodiment at Vassar in
our Safety & Security, pseudo-judicial
systems capable of punishing students
and exclusionary understanding
of excellence as synonymous with
professionalism. Last year, students
who the administration suspected of
distributing the disorientation guide
were charged and found guilty of

"disruptive conduct" in a theatrical
display of the university's power to
keep behavior within the standards it
deems acceptable and willingness to
take punitive measures against those
who stray from that. Students are
charged with various transgressions
and punished by these mock judicial
bodies frequently. A certain politics of
disposability is at play when our peers
who are struggling with their mental
health and/or can't meet particular
academic standards are forced to
take semesters off and not given tl1ey
support they need to be at school after
experiencing trauma.
Historically, Vassar's administrative
structure took more obvious inspiration
from prisons. For many years, the
school's payroll used to include a
"warden" who lived in Pratt House
and prior to that, a "Lady Principal"
who referred to students as "inmates"
served as the primary disciplinarian.
Curfews, bans on leaving campus,
and restriction s on guests meant
the college exerted extreme control
over the students' movements and
behaviors. The architecture alone,

with walls surrounding gampus and
gates and large, brick building, is
enough to conjure up the images of the
correctional inst itutions a short drive
from campus.
Universities expand the prison
industrial complex by producing penal
technologies and knowledge that
legitimizes the pri son as a necessary
apparatus of puni shment. Criminology
scholars provided the intellectual
backing to tough-on-crime policies that
locked millions behind bars. It was
academics and criminologists James Q.
Wilson and George Kelling's who gave
us the "broken windows theory" which
undergrids quality of life policing.
Other products of academia like
the "selective incapacitation theory"
justify three-strike laws and har sh
sentencing practices .. Even left-leaning
criminologi sts have e11trenched the
prison as a legitimate social inst itution
by advocating for "gender-responsive"
facilities which have only helped
grow the female prison population.
While most of the professors in the
humanities departments at Vassar
appear critical of prisons or at least

WITHIN 60
MILES OF VASSAR,
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condemn mass incarceration, there
is academic work being done and
classroom conversations being had here
that normalize, san itize and reinforce
the prison industrial complex. Just last
spring, before the event was cancelled
last minute, Vassar was slated to host a
lecture on the "Mathematics of Crime"
given by a professor who helped
develop a racist and classist "predictive
policing" computer program at UCLA.
The college is an active participant
in reproducing a class l1ierarchy in
which prisons can exist. Sure, there are
working and middle class students on
campus and tons of amazing folks who
have gone here. But at large, Vassar is
involved in the project of producing the
next generation of elite professionals,
including those who ensure the
prison-industrial complex is running
smoothly . To furtl1er keep racial and
economic hierarchies intact, the most
criminalized populations are inhibited
from ever stepping foot on campus.
The se classroom s are used as a training
ground for future politicians, lawyers,
judges, bureaucrats and corporate
executives. Selective, private schools
can equip their already well-off
students with the foundational tools to
pursue careers predicated on
exploitation and incarceration. There' s
no question that this schoo l has helped
supply a stream of professionals
responsible for locking people up. On
top of Linda Fairstein, the alum and
former trustee who resigned last June
over role in the prosecution of the
Central Park Five, there's Besty
McCaughne y, class of 1970, former
Lieutenant Governor of New York who
writes racist think pieces blaming black
families for disparities in schoo l
discipline and calls Jeff Session a "civil
rights hero". There 's also Sylvia Bacon,
class of 1952, who was a judge of the
Superior Court of the Distr ict of

Columbia considered for the Supreme
Court by Reagan and Nixon and author
of a bill that allows law enforcement to
enter properties without notifying the
residents. And there's tons of other
prosecutors, detectives, judges, cops,
and "law and order" politicians among
the ranks of Vassar alumni. Even one
of the school 's early alums, Katherine
Bernet Davis, hailed as a progressive
social reformer, oversaw many
correctional facilities, helped build the
model of gender-responsive
incarceration for women and held a
position on the Committee on Eugenics
of the United States' Advisory Council.
Clearly these alumni's careers can't be
blamed on the current administration;
they stem from the drive to ascend
professional ranks and gain power that
is insprired in part by the structure of
higher education and expectations of

students. There is an opportunity to
disrupt this flow of graduates into
careers of incarcerating people through
a cultural shift and the popularization
of an abolitionist analysis.
Currently, though, Vassar, like
so many other employers, includes
the question of whether or not
one has any felony convictions in
all online applications for faculty
and staff positions. The presence
of this question and requirement
of background checks for so many
positions eliminates opportunities for
formerly incarcerated people to become
economically self-sufficient and puts
folks on the streets or back behind
bars. By keeping our physical grou11ds
pure from the stigma that comes with
criminal records, Vassar reinforces
the idea that criminalization is not
a political tool and that the people
who have been convicted of felonies
deserve to be treated as second-class
citizens. There is no need to know
whether potential employees have had
their lives disrupted because a racist
and predatory system accused them
of something it determines to be a
crime. A conviction does not determine
someone's level of qualification.
The inclusion of the box for people
who have been convicted to check
is discriminatory and frankly, racist
and classist. Vassar needs to follow
in the footsteps of Duke and the UC
and SUNY systems and remove the
requirement for job applicants to
disclose their criminal record or "ban
the box".
Vassar appears to have an academic
interest in prisons and prison abolition.
We have a correlate in prison studies,
a class taught inside the Taconic
Correctional Facility , well-attended
lectures on abolition, and a dean
who teaches classes on incarceration.
We wonder what it could look like

to follow through on this interest
by examining and dismantling the
carceral practices of the university and
relationships to the prison-industrial
complex we hold. Knowing that prisons
and universities have long fueled
one another's growth and created
complementary mechanisms of control,
how could Vassar embark to detangle
itself from the prison-industrial
complex?
We have a duty to refuse to let
prisons exist silently within a black
hole and capitalize on our spatial
proximity and wealth of resources
to forge meaningful connections to
the people inside. There are so many
folks serving their sentences while
cut off from the world and outside
support. We would love to see more
Vassar students become penpals for
incarcerated individuals seeking
to connect. Something as simple
as a friendly letter can be a hugely
important gesture for someone who
feels forgotten about. We also have
the ability to support organizations
getting free books and legal materials
to prisoners and should create the
necessary infrastructure to get more
students involved in these. There are
tons of ways we can fundraise and tap
into the networks of affluent people
so many Vassar students are part of to
fund abolitionist work and help get
folks free. Programs setting up visits
for prisoners who request them or
Vassar-funded publications of the art
and writings many prisoners create
while incarcerated would be great as
well. Our ideas of intellectualism can
and should be challenged through
connecting with the many political
prisoners and leftist intellectuals
incarcerated near campus and
establishing platforms for them to
share their knowledge and experience
with Vassar community members.

2

Bringing formerly incarcerated folks
and abolitionist organizers/theorists
to campus is hugely important for
sparking critical analysis of carceral
systems as well.
In stitutionally, we would also like
to see an expansion of offerings related
to prisoner solidarity . This school
emphasizes community engagement in
all fields. But the tens of thousands of

"' ,,

prisoners in the area are left out of who
we consider to be part of our immediate
community . We would like to see
more avenues of engagement dedicated
to supporting the people facing or
convicted of criminal charges. The class
at Taconic, taught by Vassar faculty
members to a mixed class of Vassar
students and incarcerated women is
surely a start . Still, only a dozen select
prisoners are chosen for this course.
We think back to former professor
Larry Mamiya's legacy with the Green
Haven Pri son Program which brough
Vassar offered discussion groups and
classes in Green Haven Correctional
Facility from 1979 to 2011 and wonder
how we could honor his recent passing
by creating more robust academic
programming for and with people
in prisons and jails. The Common
Application has just eliminated their
criminal history question. We think of
the Un derground Scholars Initiative

recruiting and supporting formerly
incarcerated students at several UC
and question wha t Vassar could do to
further break down barriers that people
with convictions face when trying to
access a college education.
This isn't to say we should immediately jump right into all of this. It's
important that we approach this work
critically and look to see what existing organizations we can build off of
or collaborate with . Neither student
organizations or institutional programs
should be built with the idea that we
are playing the role of the liberator.
Nor shou ld they use the language
of rehabilitation or reformation of
corrections department s that portray
prisons as a civilizing project. We must
embrace that while reform has its
place and we sho uld pursue anything
that will get folks out of cells, there
will never be a progressive or humanitarian way of imprisoning someone
and that our ultimate goal must be the
eradication of prisons and the careeral logics that sustain them. Before
engaging with incarcerated people or
organizing against the prison-industrial
complex, we must realize that people
with convictions are fully capable
of self-determination and have been
fighting for their own freedom long
before "crim inal justice reform" became
a popular campaign platform. Our
efforts, no matter how well-executed,
are not likely to ignite a national cry
to free all prisoners and redesign our
entire understanding of justice. We
can, however, leverage Vassar's resources in strategic ways to support prisoners
and movements for abolition and sever
our connections to the legitimization
and business of prisons. Equipped
with a shared desire to see a world in
which no person is disposable, we look
forward to the work ahead and to the
end of prisons.

,3

0

Student Fellows
make you do
the Identity
Wheel™

Someone asks
you if you listen
to Mac
Demarco

Sports boy
puking

Hear rumors
that founders
day is S I CK

Accidently get
Denied
a splash of
entrance to a
sports TH Party lemonade in ur
water cup:(
(for the best)

Title IX has an
Security
reasserts that
incredibly
Bat/Owl/Flying
they can in fact
triggering
Squirrel in the
chase you
presentation on
dorm
sexual violence
Realize that
~half of your
pee rs are
literally in the
1%

FREE
SPACE
(You made it
to college!)

Someone says Boy facetiming
mom in laundry
their fav
be never
woman is
learned
Emma Watson

Sweat in the
chapel

Realize
that the lit t le
d orms were
servant
quarters

Waterfall - ie.
dunk your
head into
Sunset Lake

Sabotage ur Be told you are
special for
house during
being here
Brewer Games

Get lost in
Blodge tt

Rich kid boasts
about their
gap year
abroad

White kids
from su br u rbs
tell you they
live in the city

Have a
regrettable
crush

54

Arlene Sabo
tells you "your
hands are a
weapon"

Cry to "I Love
College" by
Asher Roth

Smoke on a
roof

Many of you have likely heard of Linda Fairstein ' resignation from the
Vassar board of trustees last June. Fairstein was pressured to step down by
students following newfound scrutiny around Fairstein's role in the 1989
prosecution of the Central Park Five generated by the portrayal of her in Ava
DuVerney's Netflix m iniseries , When They See Us. Fairstein , the former head
of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan DA , helped coerce false confessions
from the young and wrongfully convicted black and Latino teenagers using
lies , intimidation , and methods of interrogat ion akin to torutre. Fairstein's
effort , later specifically called out by an appellate judge for gross misconduct ,
played a pivotal role in land ing the boys behind bars. Desp ite their
exonerations and a consensus around their innocence , Fairstein continued to
oppose the city 's settlement with the Central Park Five and maintained their
guilt in a 2014 statement.
Fairstein's decades-long career as a sex crimes prosecutor caused
tremendous pain and suffering for the Central Park Five and count less other
black and brown indiv iduals and their families. She has made no attempt to
reckon with this , instead repeatedly defending her participation in racist state
violence and promoting a carceral brand of feminism through her novels and
speak ing engagements. As recently as 2015 , Fairstein served as consultant
to Harvey Weinstein's legal team , helping to silence an allegation of sexual

55

assault.
Evidently , Linda Fairstein should not be in any sort of position dictating
the direction of Vassar. But while her departure from the Board of Trustees
can certainly be claimed as a victory , the move did not represent an overhaul
of the board's values or a significant progressive shift in administration.
Fairstein, who accrued wealth through the criminalization and exploitation of
working class communities of color, found herself in good company among
fellow trustees. A career predicated on racist, clacist, exploitative practices
seems to be more of a common denominator than a case of exception for
the board members. While not all quite live up to the villainous standard
set Fairstein, the trustees' proximity to huge corporate entities and global
superpowers leaves little doubt that their inte rests are incongruent with the
interests of the majority of students at Vassar. Mirroring Vassar's often empty
image of progressivism, many boast impressive records of philanthropy and
commitment to liberal causes but ultimately constitute an elite power-hungry
class with an active disinterest in the liberation of oppressed peoples. The
influence the trustees wield in the world is frankly frightening. We look at it
as a reminder that we can never have faith in Vassar's administration to take
seriously the voices of students against those of the corporate executives
helping fund their salaries.
For the immense amount of power the trustees hold, this group does an
impeccable job avoiding inquiries into their shady backgrounds and hiding
their influence behind the friendly demeanor of President Bradley. Despite
never really interacting with us or having any mean ingfu l awareness of the
lives we live, the board holds the ability to control important aspects of our
life at Vassar. The decisions they make behind closed doors shape our futures.
With a $1 billion endowment in their hands, the trustees ultimately run Vassar
while most of us have no idea who they even are. To familiarize ourselves with
the environment at college, we must have a fundamental understanding of
who holds power. So here's a look at the assortment of snakes with the power
to determine the future of the school:

TONYJ. FRISCIA
•71. BOARD
CHAIR


As the CEO of Eduventures from 2014 to its acquisition
2016, Friscia provided consulting services to for-profit
schools, advised venture capitalists on investing in
education and worked to further make colleges into
businesses. His experience undoubtedly comes in
handy when helping Vassar cut costs and take on
a corporate administrative structure. Friscia also
founded AMR Research in 1986 which focused on
global supply chain and served many Fortune
500 companies. AMR sold for $64 million
in 2009. He now works as an independent
business consultant and director at Forrester , a
market research company.

56

EUZABETH
BRADLEY.
PRESIDENT
President Bradley was chosen as the eleventh president
of Vassar in 2017. PB came to Vassar from Yale where
she served as Director of the Brady-Johnson Program
in Grand Strategy , Faculty Director of the Yale Global
Health Leadership Institute and Head of Branford

College. More than anything , PB should not be trusted.
She'll have you over for cookies and do an amazing
job pretending to listen to your frustrations , but she
will not even try disrupt the violence enacted by the
corporate university. Bradley must prioritize the desires
of the board of trustees , wealthy alumni , and federal
policy around higher education over the well- being of
students or workers. Her welcome party cost close to
$1 ,000 ,000 and she makes over $230 ,000 annually on
top of free housing , but she has the audacity to explain
to us that the need blind admissions policy might have to end . Ultimately that's
the job description of the President , and simply replacing her will not make that
significant of a difference to the students on campus. Don't trust PB and her
"Grand Strategy." And remember , she's not the only snake among us.

-

.......
,,

ERICH. BERINGAUSE
'80
Beringause recently became the CEO of Dean Foods , the largest
dairy company in the U.S. which generated $7. 7 billion in
revenue in 2016. His experience in the food industry is
extensive. Before his current position , Beringause headed
__,..
,.. Gehl Foods as CEO and was responsible for the distr ibution
of nacho cheese linked to a botulism outbreak at a California
gas station that killed a man and hospitalized nine others.
~
Protected by his wealth and position , he faced no
evident consequences . Beringause was previously
the CEO at Advanced Refreshment and Sturm
Foods and held product management
positions for Nabisco Brands and Nestle. He
supports the Student Conservation
Association and set up the first program for Native American participants at
Vassar yet Nestle's bottled water brand "Arrowhead" has an extensive history
of environmental degradation stealing water from Native tribes . The company
is also known for its reliance on child labor on cacao plantations , cont inuance
of its bottling operations during Califronia's hisotric drought , union busting
and unethically promoting infant formula in third world nations in the 1970s ,
contributing to the death and suffering of babies. However , with an $800 ,000
annual salary , Beringause can sit back and relax in his mu ltiple million dollar
homes and donate thousands to fellow Vassar alum and Republician Colorado
congress ional candidate Lang Sias ' failed campaign.
57

CYNTHIAP41ION •13
Cynthia Patton is the Senior Vice President and
chief compliance officer at Amgen, a large
pharmaceutical company. Amgen has generated
billions through a monopoly on a variety of
important medications that it has consistently
and substantially increased the price of,
including Enbrel , a drug that treats
rheumatoid arthritis which can cost
$700 per 50 milligrams. The company
profits through blocking cheaper
alternatives to its drugs from being
prescribed , a practice it has settled
multiple lawsuits for. Patton's
role involves overseeing Amgen's
compliance and business ethics. She
owns $4.3 million in Amgen stock and has sold over
a million dollars in shares.

JEFFREY
A. GOLDSTEIN
-n
Goldstein worked for the World Bank from 1999 to 2004 as
Managing Director and then Chief Financial Officer. He
specifically oversaw the World Bank's relationship with
G-8 countries. For those who don 't know , the World Bank
has enabled a neocolonial global financial system and
entrapped Third World nations in a cycle of poverty. The
World Bank is built on the practice of offering loans to
these countries only on the condition that they privatize
their economies and give Western corporations
unrestricted access to their raw materials
and markets. This leaves poor people
around the world buried in inescapable
debt as powerful Western financial
institutions benefit under the guise of
"development". Goldstein, as the point
person on the Bank's International
Development Association, along with the rest of his World Bank cronies also
help finance environmental destruction, give Western states disproportionate
votes, and back projects the disrupt indigenous communities' lifestyles. From
2009 to 2011, Goldstein was the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic
Finance , advising on issues related to U.S banking systems, regulatory reform
and financial stability. He now holds the title of Chief Executive Officer at
SpringHarbor Financial Group LLCand sits on the Board of Directors of Bank of
New York Mellon Corporation and Westfield Corporation.
58

DEBRA
FAGEL
TREYZ'74
Treyz retired as Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Private
Bank in 2014 after 36 years with the firm. The
Private Bank profits through the management of
the investment portfolios of already incredibly
wealthy indiv iduals. Treyz assisted individuals
with over $30 million net worths set up
offshore trusts to avoid taxes and further
exaggerate wealth disparities. During her
career , Treyz held the titles of CEO of the
firm 's Wealth Adv isory and Trust & Estate
practices , CEO of JPMorgan Private
Bank for Europe , Mideast and Africa,
and Global head of the Philanthropy
Centre. JPMorgan is considered
one of the most unethical banks in
America and has been forced to
pay billions in restitution for mortgage fraud.

- -

MARYELLEN
CATIANIHERRINGER
'65

-



Herringer recently retired from board of PG&E
Corporation. PG&E, California's largest utility
company , filed for bankruptcy this year after
being found responsible for failing to maintain
the safety of their power lines and causing
multiple major California wildfires. In the past ,
it has also been criticized for dodging taxes ,
pursuing a monopoly, unethical lobbying ,
removing trees , and dumping contaminated
groundwater . Herringer reportedly owns over
12 ,000 units of PG&E stock worth over $2 ,657 ,37
and is married to the retired CEO of Transamerica
Corporation , a life insurance company. Herringer
has also retired from her position as
Executive Vice President and General
Counsel of APL Limited , the world 's
third-largest container transportation

services
company.

59

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LET'S TALK

The release of Vassar's March 2016 statistics regarding
sexual violence on campus made it clear that the rate of
assault was high enough to implicate us in a federal Title
IX investigation. This deepened our campuses's culture of
insecurity , as faculty feared being held responsible for not
reporting disclosures of sexual violence. Seeking ways to
eliminate liability, Vassar sought to ensure that "they did
everything they could have" if potentially put under federal
investigation . Reactionary measures were actualized in
September 2016 , when Vassar's Interim President Chenette and
Dean of the College, Dean Roellke , announced the college's plan
to expand the network of mandatory reporters on our campus in
order to track more reports pertaining to sexual violence .
In Spring 2016 all faculty went through an extensive Title
IX training and became certified mandatory reporters . Mandatory
reporters are required to report incidents of sexual violence
involving students to the Title IX coordinator , which may
immediately implicate the student in a Title IX invesitgation. This
policy comes at the cost of students anonymity, autonomy , and
the ability to confide with faculty without the fear of the school
contacting them or their perpetrator.
A report from Vassar College found that in 2018- two
years after the plan to expand the network of mandatory
reporters was put into fruition- only 9.3 % of students spoke
to the Vassar Counselors or Staff about experiences of sexual
violence , illuminating the adverse effects of this plan . Students
no longer feel safe disclosing information to faculty , robbing
students of a valuable support system. This report further
highlights how mandatory reporting strips students of their
autonomy and consent, as the majority of students do not wish
to pursue filing a formal report to Title IX. Only 4.9 % of the

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students who disclosed experiences of sexual violence spoke
to the Title IX Office and only 3.5 % of them reported filing a
formal report to Title IX. Without even taking statistics into
consideration, survivors of sexual violence ought to have the
freedom to be in control of their healing process and work
through their assult in the way they choose; anything less
than that is degrading and a clear statement that a survivor's
judgement is not valued as much as the good name of our
university. Since mandatory reporting may immediately implicate
the student in a Title IX investigation, this can begin a grueling
process that re-traumatizes survivors. Many survivors find it is
a nightmare trying to cope not only with the repercussion of
the assault itself but also with the strain of the legal process.
Accordingly, in order to prevent survivor 's from feeling
powerless , the wishes of the specific survivor must be prioritized
h . . . ,
over t e 1nst1tut1ons.
CARES originated as an underground peer-to-peer
support group that provided assistance and care over the
phone to anonymous callers who were affected by any sort of
interpersonal violence or harm. Students realized the necessity
to have the resources to navigate their assault outside of the
administration. Instead of relying on our university, students
created CARES and organized a system in which students were
.
able to get better resources , share stories, and make sure sexual
violence and other instances of interpersonal harm were being
addressed.
Initially , the school supported CARES financially, covering
the cost of phone lines , as well as the cost of training. While
beneficial in many ways , this ultimately meant that the group
was subject to Vassar's fluctuating policies and funding, which
inevitably made the group dependent upon the institution.
The disastrous effects arose in 2016 , when the expansion of
mandatory reporting led to the administration cutting support
and eliminating the work of CARES and The Listening Center
(TLC). This was a calculated effort that reflects the perceived
threat that student's control over the accountability process
and commitment to transformative justice posses to our
administration
To this day, CARES and TLC provide ways to create
spaces that support students implicated in instances of sexual
violence , interpersonal harm, and other intances where someone

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~ attempt to find ways to navigate the administrative structures

~

~ would simply want somone to talk to. We support them as they

~ and find ways to create spaces for students that actually look
~ to gain student resources in ways that do not immediately put
~ them in conversation with the Title IX office and the college's
§
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We learn the origins of CARESto help us think about
possibilities for future action here. We can and must find ways to
support each other outside of the constraints of our university.
What would it look like to actually care for each other? What
would it look for us to create a system of accountability and to
provide justice for survivors , the way they want it? The end of
CARES shouldn't be interpreted as an end to our work, but rather
as a call to examine who we've been working alongside , and who
we really should be having the conversation with all along . Our
goal is to make students who have survived assault feel free and
safe to make the decision that is best for them .
In this campus culture of insecurity , our administration
works to find ways to eliminate their vulnerability by protecting
themselves from federal Title IX investigation. This leads our
institution to devalue the decisions and freedom of students
and , specifically, survivors. Our university has made it clear
that they fail to consider the ways we actually would like to be
supported, the complexities of our situation , and the limitations
of Title IX. Merely utilizing federal laws and administrative
structures to carry out mandatory reporting fails to provide
resources that heal survivors from sexual violence and inhibits
the possibility of transforming our campus into one without the
.
threat of sexual violence.
We know that violence occurs . We know that Title IX
investigations could become a re-traumatizing process that
does not have healing for the survivor in mind . Transformative
justice does not exists within our administrative structures . We
need our peers to listen , and to converse with our professors
without fear of becoming implicated in data collection and the
surveillance apparatus. We cannot let this culture of insecurity
about federal legal compliance sabotage our freedom to heal in
the way we choose.

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L

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...---.

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-



Many of us are struggling to pay our Vassar bills and taking out
thousands of dollars in loans. We have to figure out how we're going to pay
for books and travel expenses while over 200 Vassar faculty members and
administrators are raking in over six figures , our endowment has surpassed
a billion dollars . and an extravagant inn is being constructed. There is money
everywhere you look at this school. We may not be able to access the vast
majority of it but we are able to use our years here to take advantage of the
resources in our reach . We can use the institution 's supposed generosity
against it.
As Fred Moten and Stefano Harvey reminds us in The Undercommons .
"it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge . and it cannot be
accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of these
conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what one can .
To abuse its hospitality . to spite its mission . to join its refugee colony. its
gypsy encampment. to be in but not of-this is the path of the subversive
intellectual in the modern university ."
Remember that you don't owe Vassar anything . The schools expects us
to be grateful for their financial aid and thank the wealthy alumni who make
our presence on this campus possible while using socioeconomic and racial
diversity as selling points to generate more revenue and boost the school's
public image . Refuse to feel indebted to an institution established to preserve
class dynamics and capitalize on the proximity to wealth Vassar students
have. We're not telling you to embezzle but don't hesitate for a second before
jumping on funding opportunities or free resources at the school's expense .
If you are persistent and dedicated . you can receive and redistribute huge
amounts of money and access all sorts of opportunities that would otherwise
be impossible . Here are some ways to get you started on getting your money

administrativefunds
• Marks Travel Fund will cover travel

·~ rm
■ -

-.

.f


,
,..,..__

~



expenses related to academic work
and Academic Enrichment Fund provides financial support for individual
students for academic work . with strong preference to work related to a
specific for-credit project. Both can be up to $500 and you need a faculty
sponsor .
Career Development Grant can be used to offset any costs related to
career preparation . job and internship search . and graduate / professional
school applications including attire. travel. and test/ application fees . Can
apply more than once and get up to a total of $500.
Internship Grant Fund (IGF) provides financial support to Vassar students
who are participating in low-pay and unpaid summer internship
\

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,

opportunities. Applications are easy to fill out and accepted on a rolling
basis . While there is no set cap . typical grants are $250-$2500.
The Burnam Fellowship supports students doing hands-on summer
projects with a non-profit or other community-based agency. Deadline is
in February .
Kaplan Test Prep Scholarship can cover the cost of test prep courses for
j uniors and seniors looking to apply to graduate school
Good Neighbors Committee offers funds for Vassar students to work
in partnership with local community organizations / individuals from
Arlington and Poughkeepsie to support innovative ideas in the areas of:
food systems . the environment. urban gardening . education . mental and
physical health . housing . community organizing initiatives. and the arts .
Email vassargoodneighbors @gmail.com .
Critical Language Scholarship provides fully-funded group-based
intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment
experiences overseas for seven to ten weeks in the summer . Application
deadline is November and available programs include Chinese . Japanese.
Russian . Persian . Arabic and much more .
There are lots of other funds available for summer experiences abroad .
more specific areas of work and graduate school. Go to the Office for
Fellowships and Pre-Health Advising and COOto find out about all the
potential opportunities to get money.
Appeal your financial aid! They will often give you more and it's always
worth trying !
When the VCash Machine . washer / dryer . copy machine . etc. steals your
money complain to the card office and they 'll reimburse you . Email card @
vassar .edu .
You may have luck if you just email certain deans and departments
to request additional monetary support for events on campus and
opportunities related to academics . Just ask!
Log extra work study hours and make sure you get your full allotment

We all contribute $350 in student activity fees to the college .
The VSA manages those student activity fees meaning they have a total
of ~$800.000 each year to distribute to student orgs and other campus
.
programming .
Specifically the Chair of Finance (VSA Exec position ) and the VSA Finance
Committee (composed of VSA members and students from the general
body who apply to get on) oversee the distribution of the VSA budget
There are two types of VSA funds : Entitled Funds (approx 80 percent of
budget) that are pre-allocated to student organizations and to specific
events at the end of every year and Discretionary Funds (around
$150.000) that can be applied to and allocated throughout the year
Student orgs can get a PCard. use checks . purchase orders . or fill out

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reimbursement forms to access their budget . Always keep receipts and
tax-exempt paperwork and try to track how much you're spending .
House Teams have huge VSA budgets with few limits on spending . Tap
into this and make events political.
Capital Funds can be accessed for purchasing non-disposable goods that
last for three or more years for your organization
Additional money for events (speakers . conferences, shows, panels .
workshops . etc.) can be accessed through applying for Special Purpose
Funds and meeting with the Finance Committee . You have to apply at least
a few weeks beforehand and need to be ready to explain how money will
be used and why it is necessary you can get thousands of dollars with
relative ease. Read over the VSA Finance Guide to learn more about the
different categories of funds and how to apply to them!
There are often funds left over at the end of every year and tons of
possibilities around where the money could go so don't be afraid to
constantly be applying! This level of resources is unavailable in most
organizing spaces and we have an obligation to take advantage of it.
Applying to funds and using workday and filling out contracts can be
tedious / overwhelming at first but it's well worth it once you figure out the

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Apply to become a campus rep/ brand ambassador different companies
and get free products and fun benefits for minimal work .
Always take advantage of student discount for admissions . tickets .
services etc. VCards don't have class year on them so hang on to your ID
after graduation !
Work during breaks for extra money. Work study students are always
given priority for job positions .
Stock up on toilet paper for your TH/TA/Off-Campus House from school
bathrooms
You can get away with taking books from the library fairly easily . Try to
report them missing after so they get restocked .
Always check the library . free online PDFs and second hand retailers for
cheaper /free alternatives before buying your books for the semester
VCards give us free fare on the Dutchess County bus . There's a stop right
next to campus and you can travel to the train station , the mall. Bard. and
a bunch of other places pretty easily .
People give away tons of stuff at the end of every year! Take time to
actually go through the piles and you'll find lots of valuable items .
Don't feel bad asking ur wealthy friends for help when you need it! They
don't have any more of a right to their money than you
Swap clothes . actually go the the Free Market in the Old Bookstore
Vassar is a non-profit so be sure to let businesses / people know they can
get tax receipts for donations to your organization
Utilize Free & For Sale and Hudson Valley craigslist as much as possible

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Professors get lots of free VPrint and will often let you print with their
account if you just ask
There's a whole Design Studio with Adobe Creative Cloud software in the
library as well as VR
Check out camera and audio equipment from Media Resourcesfor free.
Youcan also borrow chrome books. button makers. chargers. a zine kit.
sewing supplies. kindles and more at the library.
The darkroom is pretty cheap to use and you can get the fee waived if you
have financial need
Look out for emails about free shuttles into the city and reserve your spot
fast
Bike Shop in Strong will fix your bike for free/ cheap and even sometimes
give away bikes

push resourcesout!!


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Get extra meals for your non-Vassar friends from the Express. Retreat.
and FoodTruck
Offer to cover printing for local organizations
Tip well with PCards
Reservespaces for outside groups to meet or host events on campus
Apply for a large honorarium for speakers and performers you're
bringing . make sure you're being smart about who you're financing (don't
just bring well-established / already successful activists. academics or
musicians)
Share any and all the equipment we have (tents. button maker. editing
software. tables. mies)
Let non-VC folks use ur VCardto eat. check out books. get into buildings.
access supplies
Hold events off campus too and collaborate with people in Poughkeepsie
Make all events you organize open to the public and whenever possible
ask that security not be there
Youcan't directly donate VSA money but you can fundraise and tap into
Vassar student's rich networks to fund important local work (Nobody
Leaves does a great job of this but others can too)
Prioritize POC-ownedand local businesses when getting catering or
purchasing anything
Offer to pay for a meal whenever you're meeting with someone
Get creative!! But don't let "robin hood" style work replace real organizing.
Remember that the revolution will not be funded and panel discussions
aren't going to liberate us. Exploiting and redistributing Vassar's wealth
is a crucial aspect of organizing in this resource-rich space but it can't
be seen as the way forward . We have to find ways to make ourselves
threatening to the daily functioning of the institution and that probably isn't
going to come through funding applications alone.



ots near

some coo

cam us:
It's incredibly easy to fall into a habit of never really venturing past Vassar 's walls or
Arlington. But there's tons of nice places and things to explore in the Hudson Valley. It
can be imporant to remind yourself that Vassar isn't your entire world by stepping foot
off campus . Tryjust walking around Poughkeepsie, make an effort to find folks who
have a car and learn how to navigate the Dutchess County bus system which we can
ride for free . Here are a few of our favorite spots in the area to check out:

ouerloolt driue-in theater
3

miles from uassar

Overlook theater is a family -owned drivein movie theater that has been open since
1955. It's the closer of the two drive-ins near
Poughkeepsie (the other , Hyde Park, is 7
miles north of campus and run by the same
family) . They have a full concessions stand ,
a digital film projector , and offer discounted
tickets on Mondays and certain weeks . If
you don 't have a car, you can bring a radio
and a blanket and spread out in front of the
screen . They are open 7 days a week .

dutchess rail trail
-4 miles from uassar
The Rail Trail is a 13.4 mile paved trail that runs from
the Walkway over the Hudson through Poughkeepsie ,
LaGrange , Wappinger , and East Fishkill. It is relatively
flat and at least ten feet wide in its entirety, and the
area south of Diddell road is significantly softer for
joggers. The rail trail follows the track of the former
Maybrooke Rail Line (now defunct) , and is a project
primarily funded by the four towns it runs through.
It's a lovely area for a walk , or to take your bikes. We
suggest planning so that you end on the Walkway
Over the Hudson , especially at sunset . You can find
more information at dutchessrailtrail.com.

67

rooseuelt

&

uanderbilt houses

9.2 miles from uassar
The Roosevelt Mansion was the birthplace of
Franklin D Roosevelt . It is situated right next
to the Vanderbilt Mansion , one of the many
Vanderbilt properties in New York. Both estates
are collasal American Renaissance homes in a
gorgeous area of the valley, w ith gardens , art
collections , and historical tours available . While
tours are expens ive and probably not worth
your time , you can wander around the beautiful
properties or chill out on the expansive lawns
for free .

storm king
20 miles from uassar

Storm King is a 500 -acre outdoor museum in
Cornwall , NY.It's close to an hour drive, so more of
a day trip than the rest of the items on this list , but
well worth the trip : it boasts over 130 sculptures
in one of the most beautiful areas of the Hudson
Valley. Artists include Mark di Suvero , David Smith ,
and Louise Bourgeois. A must for fans of ecological
sculpture , earthworks , or contemporary sculpture.
Tickets are $8 and a shuttle is ava ilable from the
Beacon Metro North station .

poet's walk park
24 miles from uassar
Poet 's Walk is an 800 acre park in Red Hook,
NYcreated to celebrate the connection
between poetry and landscape . Landscape
architect Hans Jacob Ehlers designed the park
in 1849 under the conceptual framework of
"outdoor rooms " made of stone and foliage .
There are two miles of walking tra ils, with
benches and outdoor seating alone the way,
and the Hudson River is easily visible for
portions of the trail. Entrance is free.

68

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