The Executive Editorial Board
The Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editors of the Tripod
This is a developing story. Updates will be posted as more information becomes available.
Racial tensions at Trinity College beset students on Instagram over the creation and publication of posts by an anonymous Instagram account, @whiteattrin, Sunday evening. The account appeared to be created to mock @blackattrin, an account which publishes stories of racism as experienced by students and alumni of color at Trinity. The account emerged amidst a nationwide reckoning on race in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others in recent months and follows the publication of a statement and list of demands by Umoja, a group of minority student organizations, Friday afternoon.
@whiteattrin, which remained a private account until approximately 6:00 P.M., shared posts to a limited number of followers throughout the day on Sunday that appeared to antagonize and attack minority students on campus. These posts included various statements which present themselves as remarks by white students and alumni in response to racial and political events on campus since 2013 as well as recent events. It was not immediately clear who made particular statements. Throughout the day, the account also made comments on posts relative to sexual assault, including that some women “deserved it” in reference to their assault experiences, and on a post honoring Breonna Taylor indicating that she “was dead tho [sic].”
By Sunday evening, the account began to focus its postings on the actions of Greek life students, posting images that purport to depict members of St. Anthony’s Hall using drugs and engaging in other questionable activity, including one in which a student appeared to have had a Swastika drawn on his chest. The account also threatened to release photographs of AD but had not done so as of the time of publication. The Tripod reached out to members of St. Anthony Hall-Epsilon regarding the posted images who indicated that they have no comment as of now but that one would be forthcoming.
Shortly before 10:30 P.M., all of the images that had previously been posted on the account were removed and @whiteattrin was no longer following any accounts. Stories, including one with an NBC Connecticut reporter, remained visible. It remains unclear with whom the account was allied with and what its particular positions were, having antagonized multiple factions by late evening.
The account drew frustration, ire, and widespread condemnation from Trinity alumni and students Sunday afternoon over its statements and attacks against minority students and sexual assault victims. In response, the @whiteattrin account has indicated that they are “not a racist account” and added that “blackattrin [sic] talks down on Trinity while we talk about all the fun of Trinity.”
Speculation as to the account owner was rampant Sunday, though by the evening @whiteattrin had identified themselves in a story as an engineering major with “four years of computer engineering” as a concentration and prodded Trinity to attempt an investigation. In an introductory message, the anonymous account directed a message to Trinity indicating that their content is “WHATS [sic] GOING ON BEHIND ALL THESE CLOSED FRAT DOORS. THIS IS ONLY THE SURFACE OF IT.”
Subsequently, the account owner released a modulated vocal statement which stated that “It is not I who is the enemy; it is the prestigious white institution that has failed you, who is the enemy.” The statement argued that Trinity had “sat around for far too long letting Greek life run amuck on campus” and also directed anger at Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success Joe DiChristina. The account indicated that Trinity is “so quick to respond to a page but not the many countless stories released of oppression towards black folks.”
The account drew condemnation from President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney after several hours of student protest demanding response from the College and administration. Berger-Sweeney’s message Sunday evening, sent shortly before 6:00 P.M., stressed that she is “extremely disappointed in our Trinity community.” Berger-Sweeney condemned the account, describing it as “engaging in harassing, hurtful, and racist activity” and noted that its actions are “nothing short of shameful and disgusting.”
Berger-Sweeney also indicated that while the College does “not have the power to take down the account,” it has “reported it to Instagram for harassment/bullying,” “directed Campus Safety to investigate,” and “activated the Campus Climate Incident Response Team to respond to this incident.” She also stressed that “if you have information and remain silent, you are condoning this behavior in our community.”
The Tripod spoke with and received a statement from the maligned account @blackattrin. They demanded a “private investigator” to look into the account, adding that “anything short of that is them not taking this seriously. Period.” @blackattrin also indicated that they cannot “rely on this same administration to do their job anymore.” They urged that a private investigator will “help us bring accountability to our own community.”
The Tripod reached out to Chief of Staff to the President Jason Rojas for additional comment and details around the investigation. Rojas declined to provide additional comment, directing the Tripod to the President’s earlier message.
By late Sunday evening, a pre-formatted email had circulated among alums and a campaign had begun calling on Trinity’s administration and Board of Trustees to take action and accountability. More than thirty emails were sent to administrators as of 11:00 P.M.
Shortly after the release of Berger-Sweeney’s email, @whiteattrin indicated that it would soon leak “campus safety racist convos.” At the time of publication, those conversations had not been released. A reporter from NBC Connecticut later reached to @whiteattrin, who made the following statement: “I’m glad they’ve finally acknowledged @blackattrin. That is all.”
The Instagram account @blackattrin, the apparent target of @whiteattrin, appeared early last week and describes itself as telling the “Stories of Black/POC Trinity College students and alumni.” It is similar to accounts that have appeared at other NESCAC schools and colleges across the country such as @blackamherstspeaks and @blackatbowdoin, both of which began posting on June 10. Other accounts such as @blackatbates and @blackatwilliams have also recently appeared and an account, @trinsurvivors—which purports to post stories of sexual assault on Trinity’s campus—also began this past week.
@blackattrin’s posts feature anonymous submissions that suggest detailed experiences of people of color in the Trinity community. The posts describe experiences of racism with professors, fellow students, athletic teams, clubs, coaches, and Greek life. The Instagram page has posted numerous accounts of the use of racial slurs and racist costumes. It has gained a following amongst the Trinity community, with over 2,500 followers and 288 posts as of Sunday, June 21.
The creation of the @whiteattrin account also follows the Umoja Coalition’s Friday afternoon statement acknowledging the College’s stance of solidarity and expressing their frustrations. The coalition told the community Friday that “we recognize and are appreciative that they are acknowledging the problems that face our institution, but these words and sentiments of solidarity do nothing to tackle the root of the problem.” They declared that “we as Black students at Trinity College can no longer stand and take the oppressive nature of the institutionalized racism we experience here.” They also noted that the absence of the words “Black” and “police brutality” from the administration’s statement reflects that they are “out of touch with an essential part of the Trinity Community.”