March 30, 2021

WHY DID THE VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION STAND BY WHILE THIS ABUSE HAPPENED? When the Social Justice Mob Came for Me. His crime: Being white, Jewish, and a fraternity member.

Because most of my service during COVID-19 was virtual, few students at Vandy knew anything about me. They knew I was a junior and of my work for financial inclusivity, but they had no reason to know I was white, Jewish, and in a fraternity.

Suddenly I started to get tweets and group messages where people told me to go to hell, that I was a white supremacist and a racist confederate. My senior advisor, a woman of color, was asked why she supported a Colonizer.
The other candidates’ supporters tore down our posters and ripped my head off the pictures, a sinister warning of what was to come. My campaign was called the white supremacist campaign. False social media posts circulated that my fraternity had parties with confederate flags and chanted that the south would rise again. One message said, “White men are the absolute worst!” Soon after, the posts got even more terrifying — “Hitler got something right!” and “he should get dragged for it!” I began to fear for my safety. Why was this happening?

I felt hopeless. It was a level of fear I couldn’t even process. Everything I had worked for was destroyed, and so was my reputation. I felt like I could never come back from this.

In the real world of politics, when one side uses strong speech, the other side follows it up with more speech. But this isn’t real-world politics. This is student service, governed by clear rules developed by my university. It is well-known that twenty-year-old college students are not fully-formed adults, and thus, my institution set protective rules for us. These rules are also there to cultivate a safe space so students can model collegiality and civility. Vandy’s campaign rules prohibit negative campaigning and ban any remark or attack about a candidate’s personal character. Candidates are held responsible for the actions of their supporters and, when there is a violation, the rules require a formal apology.

Despite these clear rules meant to engender civic discourse, the university did nothing. . . . Even the student deputy election commissioner, who was supposed to be impartial and enforce the rules, joined the opposition and participated in the vitriolic shaming and blaming. She violated the very rules she was supposed to enforce.

Rules only apply to some students.

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