Babson College student appears to apologize for Wellesley incident
One of two Babson College students who drove through Wellesley College shouting and displaying a Donald Trump flag appears to have publicly apologized for the incident.
A nearly 400-word message posted early Friday on a Facebook page apparently belonging to Edward Tomasso said the student used “extremely poor judgment” and offered regrets to “LGBTQ, African American, Muslim, immigrants, sexual assault victims, and [any] other community or individuals impacted by my actions.”
Tomasso said he took responsibility for his behavior, which reflected badly on Babson and his family, as well as himself, but he insisted that the public perception of him is not accurate.
“I’m not a racist. I’m not a bigot. I’m not homophobic,” he said.
Tomasso said, “[e]nough with the death threats,” and asked that those offended by his behavior talk to him directly. He included a phone number and e-mail address in the message but did not respond to the Globe’s inquiries at either.
The other man, whom the Globe is not naming because he has not come forward and has not been charged with a crime or identified by officials, also could not be reached.
Across the country since Tuesday’s election, there have been many reports of intimidation of women, African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Many of the acts appear to be inspired by statements Trump has made demeaning women, bragging of sexual assaults, vilifying Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, and threatening to ban Muslims from entering the country.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, reported Friday that it had collected information on 201 incidents of intimidation and harassment related to Trump’s victory.
One report filed with the law center alleged that on Wednesday a black female freshman at an unnamed Boston-area college heard a white female student say of the election, “This is their punishment for eight years of black people.”
That same day, the Babson students drove a pickup through the campus of the women’s college, Hillary Clinton’s alma mater, while waving a Trump flag, uttering words and engaging in actions that many people found “racially offensive and gender demeaning,” a Babson official said Thursday.
Officials at the colleges, both in Wellesley, did not give details of what the men said or did.
Babson president Kerry Healey, a former lieutenant governor, said on Thursday that 40 “bias incident reports” related to the matter indicated that the men “antagonized” students, and investigators will determine if any laws or standards were violated.
Healey apologized to the Wellesley College community on Friday, saying that the students’ behavior was “at a minimum, insensitive, unacceptable, and contrary to our core values.”
Wellesley campus police Chief Lisa Barbin said in an e-mail to the college community that her department is working with town police and Babson officials in the investigation.
In his statement, Tomasso denied claims made in social media posts that the men had spit toward Wellesley students and shouted racist profanities. He said he had yelled, “Trump 2016,” and, “Make America great again” but had not used profane language or spit at anyone.
The men drove by Wellesley’s Harambee House, which serves as the college’s focal point for African-American students, according to a letter to Babson students from the college’s vice president of student affairs. Tomasso said in his statement that he did not intentionally drive past Harambee House and was unaware of the building’s significance.
The posting had attracted more than 800 comments by Saturday afternoon, some accepting the apology, but others questioning Tomasso’s sincerity, vilifying him, or making threats.
“Obviously, someone dictated this letter to you,” one person commented. “Your act was unforgivable and I really hope you get suspended from school for a while. There have to [be] consequences.”
Wellesley students on the Honor Code Council called on Babson administrators to expel the men. Healey, in her letter Friday, said federal law prohibits the college from “discussing specific disciplinary actions,” but the national leadership of Sigma Phi Epsilon said both had been kicked out of the fraternity.
Tomasso said he had not intended to cause fear and does not support discrimination.
“As a white male, I do not feel threatened by the new president,” he said. “I have not had to work for that privilege. It was something I was born with. However, I’m willing to listen to how I can use this privilege to help those impacted by it and promote unity, equality, and prevent the marginalization of those afflicted.”