The Poughkeepsie Journal headline said it all. The response to the Westboro Baptist Church's plans to protest near the campus on February 28 was nothing short of galvanizing for the college community. Almost immediately, alumnae/i and other supporters began to raise more than $100,000 to support regional and national LGBTQ youth organizations and social justice projects.
On campus, the student group Do Something Vassar helped to organize a rally that brought hundreds of supporters to campus on February 28 to celebrate the values of inclusion and diversity. During the event, Pastor Joseph Tolton '89, national minister of global justice at the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries in New York City, urged LGBTQ students to “Be strong in the face of adversity. You are not second-class citizens. Your sexuality and your gender identity are not burdens—they are blessings.” Student speakers encouraged Vassar to view the situation as an opportunity for reflection on its own campus climate. And musical groups sang songs of togetherness. To cap the celebration, counter-protesters linked hands around Main Building, the “heart” of the campus.
More than 7,500 viewers tuned in to watch the event live on the Hub! And, all along, the media—including some alumnae/i writers and journalists—commented on the events. Turns out, students had a few things to say, too. View a few of these notable responses, as well as videos and slideshows of the February 28 gathering on campus.