Letter from the president's office on Vassar's response to Westboro plans

Dear students, faculty, staff, and alumnae/i,

Yesterday I sent an email to the campus community about plans announced by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, to picket Vassar on February 28 in protest of our open support of LGBTQ students, employees, and alums. As I said in that message, we look forward as a college to any opportunity to counter messages of hate and bigotry and to underscore our values. Since the campus and alumnae/i became aware of Westboro's plan, we have received an outpouring of support for reaffirming our commitment to inclusion. Many of you have posted similar sentiments on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. The responses from members of our community, while not surprising, have been remarkable and have made all of us who have read them proud to be part of Vassar.

In the face of Westboro's statements, we want to celebrate the inclusiveness of our community and the multitude of backgrounds, interests, and preferences that enrich our experiences. In an effort to coordinate activities that members of the campus and alumnae/i communities are planning, the senior staff of the college has organized a group representative of students, faculty, staff, and alumnae/i to serve as a clearinghouse and sounding board. I know they will foster an array of events that will speak powerfully to our values.

If you have ideas you would like to share with the coordinating group, please send them to its email account, Judging from the flood of comments so far, they probably cannot respond to everyone; but they will read and consider each contribution as the plans develop. We look forward to sharing more specifics with you soon.

Jon Chenette
Acting President

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, February 11, 2013