Haverford college bullying issues

I am a first year at Haverford and there is a significant bullying problem. For me it started when the strike started. It has continued. I haven’t even experienced the worst of it, others have had it so much worse. I’m scared to even walk around and I just want to keep my exposure limited. I reported the bullying to several deans and nothing was done. My crime that enraged the bullies was just wanting to attend class. At this point the bullies have taken over the school. I wouldn’t recommend anyone coming here unless you want others telling you how to act, what to say, and when you can and can’t attend class because it doesn’t support their views. I’m disappointed that I used Haverford as my early decision. I wish I could go back and change that. I really thought I found the right school for me at the time.

4 Likes

I’m sorry for your experience, but I’m struggling to understand the situation.

If you’re “scared to even walk around, yet haven’t experienced the worst of it”…what is the worst of it?

Are you transferring?

Last thought: One thing I’ve never heard is an ED admitted student say (a year later) that they are disappointed with their ED choice. ED is a strategy, and when used successfully fades into the background…almost hidden as not to diminish the accomplishment through the deployment of privilege. Given the timing (current year ED II decision release), there are aspects of your experience that sound more immediate than last year’s strike?

To disregard harm done to a person through bullying is unacceptable. This has nothing to do with ED. We are talking about recent events that this student experienced within the past 4 months. The intimidation tactics used by other students to strong arm their peers into compliance was unacceptable and is certainly a threat in this semester too. For sure the bullies are still on campus and this student has a right to feel fear. This is a very small campus and therefore hard to ‘get lost in the crowd’ if one wants to avoid people.

3 Likes

There’s an Inside Higher Ed article here for some background (hoping this is not against the TOS to post link here.)
Students of color at Haverford College continue strike for racial equity (insidehighered.com)

2 Likes

No, I am not FirstYearFord, although my child is a first year Ford, we are not the same person. I am sure there are others who have similar concerns but have not thought about airing them on College Confidential. We waded through College Confidential when considering the school and certainly saw positives and negatives on many different issues. This particular issue is important and needs be brought to light. Thank you.

I’m sorry you regret your choice. My daughter is at haverford and participated in the strike (of her own volition) but I’ve never heard a peep about bullying or intimidation and it seems antithetical to the school, honestly. Have you considered transferring? Not because you should have to or anything, but because it sounds like maybe the school culture isn’t a fit for you, or isn’t the fit you thought it was. My daughter approached the strike from a place of never wanting to not support her classmates who have been marginalized- but she had a friend who didn’t participate for her own reasons and they’re still good friends now- no one tells anyone else what to do. I’m sorry you’ve experienced otherwise.

Edited to add: what are you scared of, btw? The strike ended months ago and no one my daughter knows is hanging on to any sort of grudges of any kind. What are you afraid will happen to you?

3 Likes

I, for one, would love more detail. Like, is Haverford still on strike? Also, an honest question. This is college. I have this image of someone being hung upside down in a bathroom stall. Is there something else we can call this?

1 Like

The strike ended in mid-November.

The OP said the bullying started during the strike, and has continued.

When I said the strike ended in November, I was answering the poster above me. I’m confused what is meant by bullying tbh. With the strike over and school just starting today for a new semester, what exactly is going on? Everyone is totally locked down and classes are remote, so I’m honestly having trouble imagining what’s going on.

4 Likes

I can’t say that I understand from what you’ve written exactly what is going on. My interpretation (which may be way off base) is that you went against the majority of your classmates, following your conscience, and you feel that you are suffering as a result (whether that is that you feel that you are being ostracized, scoffed at, or something else, I don’t know). You say you have reported this to several deans, but have you gone through whatever channels there are for addressing student issues in your handbook? I would suggest that you try getting a face-to-face meeting with whomever handles these issues. Take a notebook detailing what you did, and what others have done, what you want to accomplish, and get whomever you meet with to give you a timeline for redress.

I am very sorry to hear that you feel the way you do. Have you talked to your parents about this? Have you tried student support services? While you are trying to resolve the issue(s), you need to find some support.

If your efforts fail, by all means you should transfer. Not every school is right for everyone. And for anyone to say that these kinds of things don’t happen at X school is naive. Probably almost half the kids at Haverford are still teens (and young 20s isn’t much different). Of course social pressure to conform exists. How that pressure plays out at Haverford, I can’t say, but OP’s feelings are legitimate. Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are.

1 Like

Absolutely agree:

College student’s op-ed criticizing Black Lives Matter movement stirs controversy | Fox News

Williams students revoke invitation to speaker who criticizes feminism (insidehighered.com)

firstyearford, I am a junior at Haverford who experienced many of the same issues. I am in touch with the administration and have had some responsiveness. They want students to come forward about what has happened. For everyone reading this who is considering Haverford, do not come here. The culture is toxic and bullying has gone completely unchecked.

(This post is in support of firstyearford and to answer some of the string’s questions but doesn’t come from firstyearford)
I’ve read thru the string here and let me try to answer multiple questions raised. first yearford refers to a 2 week “strike” (actually a boycott where students/faculty suspended classes for 2 weeks at the end of Oct and early Nov).

This boycott erupted when the individual having a mental health crisis was killed by Philly police. Haverford has a strict COVID bubble so President Raymond asked students to protest on campus and not go into Philly. At this point she was attacked by various groups such as BSRFI (Black Students Refusing Further Inaction), etc. with a series of ad hominem attacks and language I really can’t reprint here. (As a means of showing the tone, one of the popular tunes played as a strike anthem during dialog with the President was “Smack that bi$#%”).

The strike organizers submitted a list of ~33 demands which include such things as returning all the land Haverford sits on to the Lenni Lenape (I suppose the strikers either hadn’t thought through or didn’t care about how the institution would continue), certain illegal demands like only hiring a person of color as the new Head of Diversity or no longer having mental health responders on campus report mental help incidents, some institutionally disturbing things for the future like demanding academic leniency and major curricular rewriting, and some economic/rent seeking demands like funding to renovate certain campus diversity centers and increasing Office of Multicultural affairs funding/staffing.

Significant segments of the faculty supported the activists. The Anthropology Dept signed their list of demands. At one point the Bio department said classes would be suspended the rest of the semester while they revised the curriculum (This threatened College accreditation so the administration stepped in). Other departments introduced seminars on race and justice so for example rather than learning about chemistry you might have an essay on race in America. The bullying came in when students would attempt to carry on with their academic work or attend a class (some professors continued holding them). Some students including my child were told they were racists. they cared only about their own success, and they were failing to support their BIPOC peers. Select sports teams were epicenters where some non-strike supporting students were hounded off the teams (and many others just resigned to avoid conflict) and then interestingly strike supporters were elevated to team captaincies. If you dared to oppose either any of the activists’ demands or the bullying tactics you couldn’t get your opinion published in campus newspaper The Clerk or if you went online you generally received a tirade of expletives and personal attacks as student who used the pseudonym Publius did. Additionally some students were told that activists were monitoring online forums and so knew what students’ parents were posting and there would be consequences. Students were told that if they didn’t support the strike “A list was being kept”. Also, BIPOC students who opposed the strike were frequently told “they weren’t really BIPOC because they were only one quarter…” this or that. Or they were completely ostracized as was a brave fellow from NYC (He had several well-spoken public comments on the activists and their tactics). Fundraising to support other BIPOC students was also a goal so one technique was circulation of a repugnant “bingo game” where you were supposed to donate for checking certain squares.
Examples “Doesn’t have an on campus job”, “Isn’t on financial aid”, “Parents attended college”, “Doesn’t send money home”, or “White”

Academically, progress largely halted and has only fitfully restarted. Grades are being allowed as P/F again for any class. Much course material was skipped. Curricula in some departments are being rewritten to be less rigorous. Extraneous subjects are being introduced into the sciences.

The administration has not publicly admitted to any bullying nor to any consequences. Most disturbing they are NOT issuing any go forward statements on what is acceptable and unacceptable protest behavior. A THRIVE program is being started to dive deeply into racial issues (Its unclear what is mandatory or what isn’t). Also, it seems one could be targeted for not wanting to participate. Speakers like Angela Davis are being invited to campus. Also, a mandatory class is envisaged around “Blackness and Unpacking whiteness”. There are also some students mentioning when they apply for campus jobs, academic opportunities or fellowships, they are being asked to sign pledges to support the strike. Or they are being asked what was their position on the strike.

Many parents have engaged in dialog with President Raymond. She refuses to step in and moderate behavior and believes students need to work things out or bring issues to the Honor Council (even though several activists hold offices in the Honor Council). Haverford is trying to become something called a Truth and Reconciliation Center; it is frankly like the administration is embarking on a social experiment like the Chinese Cultural Revolution at the behest of a very active and vociferous group of students who they’ve handed the agenda to.

I do not foresee violence or safety issues. I do think the Camus environment is badly damaged with rifts among the students and faculty. I believe academic standards will be sacrificed and the academic learning agenda is being shoved into the back seat so I think Haverford will experience some major convulsions and degradation.
My child (and I) felt they had found the perfect school. Now she and many others are demoralized and actively submitting transfer applications. If we had known this would occur we would not have matriculated at Haverford and I do NOT recommend anyone attend the school at this time unless they wish to be surrounded by a sea of turmoil and bitter feelings.

2 Likes

I am so sorry for what you are going through. I had not heard of this, but just did a little research. For those who haven’t heard/read about it, here’s a link to an article about it that seems a pretty clear-minded summary of the events.

Race and Social Panic at Haverford: A Case Study in Educational Dysfunction – Quillette

Essentially, students who refused to sign a document stating that they supported the racially charged demands of the strike leaders (unless of course they were the Friends of Israel group, whom the organizers BANNED from signing) were told that they were being noted, and would be ostracized for not signing, and for daring to continue to participate in classes and activities.

Haverford (and Bryn Mawr) weren’t on my kid’s radar, but Oberlin was - and I was glad kid didn’t want to apply there. I had no idea that this “Cultural Revolution” style chaos was going on at Haverford. This problem cannot be fixed in the time that you will be there. It is not your responsibility to fix it. And I most definitely, as a parent, would not want to pay for my child to be having the experience that you and many others on campus are having. Sometimes you just have to realize that you made a mistake. You need to transfer, hopefully to a school where there is less chance of your education being interrupted in this manner.

6 Likes

I’m not going to keep going back and forth on this, but this is so one sided it’s ridiculous. Not a mention of the threats against the strikers and students of color at all. Everyone knows there multiple sides to every story and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle- and the Quillete is hardly unbiased reporting on anything- their bias rating is far right and they’re not considered especially reliable either.

5 Likes

IMO, Quillete is not a reliable source of unbiased information.
It would be helpful if unbiased sources were referenced in this situation.

3 Likes

One of the posts seems pretty reliable because the daughter is a current student at Haverford and is now actively transferring because of the situation (as well as some of her fellow students). And the original OP has issues as well and may also be transferring. Perhaps not all the students feel the same but clearly not everyone is comfortable with what happened in November and the ongoing repercussions.

I read an article about a similar situation the occurred at Bryn Mawr during the same strike period and there are kids also transferring out as well.

I do not disagree that a few students may feel very uneasy about a campus that is pushing for equity and equality. I agree that sometimes it can be a bumpy road. I agree that some students who come from cities/neighborhoods/schools with no diversity might feel somewhat threatened and out of place at a place that is striding toward equality and equity, and allowing minorities the space and platform to broaden the discussion. I don’t disagree that something ought to be done to make those students who feel uneasy with the conversation feel more comfortable.

What I disagree with is that article’s portrayal of the push for equity as “sad”, “surreal”, “atmosphere of grievance and self-entitlement”, etc. When the article characterizes Yale’s handling of a different situation as “rolling over”, it sets an unfortunate tone and is very telling about the biases of the author. The article spent too much time taking “gotcha” potshots at minor statements made by teenagers, and presenting same as ostensible proof of why their requests, framed as unreasonable, should be denied.

That website also posted vitriolic diatribes about a similar push for equity at Bryn Mawr, where it used terms like “meltdown”, “mob”, “chaotic”, “disintegration of … civil society”, “melodramatic”, etc. I could go on and on with examples of the authors’ transparent bias. IMO, that article is a poor example of the shortcomings of Haverford’s push for equity.

Tough conversations and real life experiences in new situations can be uncomfortable. Some teenagers may not be able to experience such conversations without feeling “attacked” and misunderstood. Haverford should continue its efforts to strive for equity, but it should also do a little more to help such students as the OP feel more comfortable with the transition.

10 Likes

IMO the best unbiased source on this issue would be the actual Haverford students who are having to deal with a situation that they disagree with. Is it so hard to believe that a student (or their parents) who have paid their hard earned money to attend this school would at a minimum expect to have the services delivered? I’ll bet if any of those who are in agreement with Haverford’s actions in allowing the strike found themselves shorted on any commodity they purchased would expect a refund or similar compensation. Maybe the best solution would be for those students who wanted to learn for those two weeks demand a refund from the college. Haverford would be hard pressed to deny that they fulfilled their obligation.

5 Likes