Liz Foster ’22
Trinity students and alumni have recently taken to Instagram with the intent to highlight the injustice prevalent throughout the College. On Friday, June 19, the Umoja coalition released a statement that included a letter to the community and a correlating list of demands directed at the College’s administration. One day before the public release of the coalition’s statement, an unrelated Instagram account by the name of @blackattrin launched.
The account, whose bio reads “Stories of Black/POC Trinity College students and alumni,” began posting submissions detailing the experiences of people of color within the Trinity community. The account currently has over 2,000 followers and 288 posts as of Sunday, June 21. Submissions have highlighted the prevalent racism in Greek life, classrooms, dorms, and athletic departments. The stories include content ranging from microaggressions to explicit use of derogatory and racist language. The account has exposed students using slurs, parading around in racist and culturally appropriative costumes, and mocking the experiences of people of color.
Several students have described their failed attempts at administrative intervention. Administrative figures such as President Berger-Sweeney and Dean Joe, along with multiple faculty members, have been implicated as students depict their experiences demanding justice. Students have repeatedly spoken to administrators concerning moments of racism throughout campus and online, yet little action has been taken to punish these students and set a precedent for future, comparable incidents.
On Friday, June 19, the Instagram account @trinsurvivors joined @blackattrin in exposing the failures of students and administrators alike, this time with a focus on sexual assault, rape, and rape culture on campus. The account has reached over 800 followers with fewer than 40 posts as of June 21. Stories include drugged girls waking up to find themselves being raped, public harassment and assault at social events, friends betraying trust through assault or harassment, and more. With a smaller number of posts than that of @blackattrin, it’s unknown how many more students have stories to share regarding the disgusting, devastating culture that allows rapists to walk around campus with little to no consequence.
These accounts have worked to highlight the injustice that trickles down from Trinity’s administration throughout the student body. However, on the morning of June 21, the accounts were met with retaliation from a new Instagram page: @whiteattrin. With a bio that reads “Stories of absolute bangers going down at Trin,” and a username proclaiming that “everyone deserves a voice,” the account appears to be a troll response to the silenced voices seeking justice through @blackattrin and @trinsurvivors. Within just hours of its inception, @whiteattrin has attacked rape victims on @trinsurvivors, commenting that a woman “wanted it” and that the traumatic events posted on the account were “HILARIOUS LIES.” The account also commented “She dead tho…” on a post by a student celebrating the life and condemning the murder of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was asleep in her home when police officers broke down her door and murdered her. Though the account claims it seeks to showcase the positive aspects of Trinity, the posts thus far have included nothing but contrary statements to those found on @blackattrin with little to no mention of the “great parties” and “highlights” of Trinity College.
Trinity administrators are nowhere to be found save a brief comment on the College’s official Instagram account @trinitycollege. A white alumni inquired if the College would speak on @blackattrin as the current “silence is deafening.” The response, posted a day later, read: “I just want to reach out and acknowledge that I see your comment and that the College’s appropriate leadership is aware of the account. Thank you for sharing with the Communications team, and we will continue to bring the account and posts to the attention of the appropriate people at Trin.” The quote reads as an empty promise of “attention” being brought to the multifaceted issue of racism at Trinity with no mention of the College taking initiative to condemn white supremacy.
Trinity College administrators, now is the time to check your DMs. Read the posts of @blackattrin and @trinsurvivors. Believe the victims and survivors of sexual and racial violence. Listen to students of color, LGBT+ students, immigrant students, international students, ALL of your students. Develop policies that hold students accountable for their actions beit the use of a slur, the promotion of hateful ideologies, or direct attacks on their peers.
The student body must take steps towards a better Trinity, but the responsibility falls upon administrators to implement strategies to encourage the development of a less harmful, more supportive campus climate.