Peter Fricke, Campus Reform, November 3, 2015
Administrators at Vassar College agreed to personally shred a pocket Constitution after an undercover reporter posing as a student complained that she felt “triggered” by its distribution on campus, while professors at Oberlin College confided that they shared the reporter’s misgivings about the founding document.
The video was produced by Project Veritas, a non-profit established by conservative journalist James O’Keefe, and employs a similar style to the undercover ACORN videos that first brought him to prominence.
“Last week something kinda happened on campus that kind of really upset me and I ended up having a panic attack,” the reporter tells Vassar College Assistant Director of Equal Opportunity Kelly Grab. “It’s just I’ve been kind of hiding out in my room ever since kind of scared, so, finally somebody told me I should maybe come talk to you about it and see if there’s anything that can happen or anything . . . They were handing the Constitution out on campus.”
“Oh, CATO Institute,” Grab murmurs while looking the booklet over.
“They were handing it out and as soon as I saw it you know I started to not be able to breathe, hyperventilating,” the reporter elaborated. “My vision went blurry and I just–kind of just lost control.”
After establishing that the reaction was triggered merely by the offering of copies of the Constitution and not by anything the group had said, Grab offers her sympathies to the reporter.
“And so what I think you’re sharing with me is that your interaction in receiving this was harming, right?” Grab confirms. “And that’s what we certainly want to avoid; we don’t want to limit people in exchanging ideas or having opposing viewpoints, but when it’s disruptive or causing harm . . .”
“Yeah, which I think the Constitution does,” the reporter interjects. “I mean, it’s not just me, it’s–I mean I thought that Vassar wanted to create like a safe place here, you know a place that . . . where students could walk around and not be scared of seeing discriminating things on campus.”
Noting that “I’m sure there are also some people who, who maybe don’t understand the impact that this might have on folks,” Grab asks the reporter whether there is anything that can be done to create an “educational moment” regarding the issue.
“Yeah, I guess, maybe,” the reporter responds, suggesting that “maybe the Constitution should be removed from campus permanently.”
Grab stops short of endorsing that idea, but asks the reporter if there is anything she can do with the copy of the Constitution that was brought into the office.
“Honestly, can we just like destroy–like is there a shredder or something? Like I think it might be really therapeutic,” the reporter offers.
“Cathartic . . . Yes, I think we have a shredder in the front office there,” Grab replies. “Did you want to do it with me?”
The video then show Grab and the reporter enter another office, where Grab proceeds to shred the entire Constitution, page by page.
“Thank you, that made me feel better,” the reporter says, to which Grab replies, “[g]ood.”
A narrator then asserts that when the reporter tried the same story at Oberlin College, several professors made similarly shocking statements.
When the complaint was brought to Wendy Kozol, Professor/Chair of Comparative American Studies at Oberlin, she agreed after a long pause that “[t]he Constitution in everyday life causes people pain,” adding that she rarely discusses the Constitution in class, and that when she does she tends to focus on specific amendments.