By River Mitchell
At approximately 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21, an incident occurred in the Campus Union cafe involving Spirit (the Pride’s mascot) and a Harvest Table employee.
Springfield College Chief of Police Joe Tiraboschi sent an email at 4:32 p.m. on Tuesday. The email stated that Spirit was struck by the worker while the mascot was greeting students and handing out candy. No students were harmed or involved in the incident, and Spirit was unharmed as well. The Harvest Table employee was promptly removed from the campus.
“We want to make sure you’re all aware of what happened,” Tiraboschi said. “But also know that, ‘Hey, we don’t tolerate violence.’”
Other faculty members, including Vice President of Student Affairs Slandie Dieujuste, were in full support of the email and had a similar outlook to Tiraboschi on the situation.
“[The email was sent] to assure students that everybody is okay, and safe,” Dieujuste said. “But also, we don’t take these sorts of incidents lightly. We have no tolerance at all for any acts of violence.”
Dieujuste was notified of the incident via a text message sent by Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper, along with multiple other texts from various colleagues. From there, she quickly got in contact with Public Safety.
“I’m glad that we took very swift actions,” Dieujuste said.
Once Public Safety was notified, it proceeded with an investigation of the incident, which is still a work in progress.
“[During an investigation], you just try to meet with people that were there when it happened,” Tiraboschi said. “You try to gather all the facts you possibly can, you speak to both parties that were involved.”
Tiraboschi received an email from a worker in the Union, and also talked to a few eyewitnesses to get more facts about the situation. They were even able to collect video footage of what transpired as well as talk to both parties about the incident. The mascot was also offered medical attention. Public Safety is currently working with Harvest Table as they continue to investigate the incident.
On top of all of this, Public Safety and the Office of Student Affairs are making sure that students and faculty remain safe on campus.
“It’s the number one priority for us,” Tiraboschi said. “We don’t want anyone to suffer any pain or suffering because of someone else’s actions. It can be absolutely avoided.”
“We can’t really do our work as employees and students can’t focus on their studies and can’t focus on being students, if they’re not physically or psychologically safe here,” Dieujuste said. “We work hard and very closely with Public Safety and all others to make sure that our community is a safe one that students can thrive here, and that they feel this is home.”
If anyone is in need of any support at all, or is feeling stressed or anxious because of the incident, the Counseling Center, Student Affairs office, and even your residence assistants are here to help you through this and give you support. If you see an incident on campus that you feel needs to be reported, contact Public Safety by phone at (413) 748-5555 as well as by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The RAVE guardian app is a valuable resource as well, as you can file reports through the app, anonymously or not.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College