Social media allegations against Trump-loving Babson duo crumble under investigation
By Evan Lips | December 13, 2016, 15:13 EST
WELLESLEY — The popular narrative of how a male Babson College duo terrorized the women of Wellesley College a day after President-elect Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton with a four-wheeled campus joyride and an arsenal of hateful slurs appears to be crumbling under the weight of an investigation.
The Boston Herald on Tuesday reported that a series of investigative documents indicate that social media’s version of the “campus joyride” differs wildly from the actual events.
The two male Babson students, according to a social media post fired off via Facebook by a Wellesley student, allegedly spat at a student and targeted an African-American dorm.
“Edward Tomasso and Parker Rander [sic]-Riccardi, two students at Babson College, decided to drive around our beautiful campus with a Trump flag in a pick up truck,” wrote Wellesley student Sydney Robinson in a post that quickly went viral online. “They laughed, screamed and sped around campus. Then, they parked in front of the house for students of African decent [sic], and jeered at them, screaming Trump and Make America Great Again. When one student asked them to leave, they spit in her direction.”
Robinson has since removed the post, but not before various news outlets pounced on the allegations. One popular feminist site, The Tempest, treated Robinson’s narrative as fact and openly boasted about how the apparent outing of Tomasso and Rand-Ricciardi “is the key to surviving in Trump’s America.”
The Tempest’s report continued:
“We found them and made it public. Made them public. We called their employers, the national board of their frat, their class dean. We made it clear that this is unacceptable behavior. Their college, their peers made it clear that they do not stand for racism.”
The fallout led to Tomasso and Rand-Ricciardi being dismissed from Babson. Yet investigative campus police documents unearthed by The Herald’s Jack Encarnacao indicate that the duo’s worst crime was choosing the all-female Wellesley College as a venue to celebrate Trump’s victory.
According to the investigation, Babson administrators received about 90 “bias reports” but only six reports were filed by actual witnesses to the hijinks while most of the rest were based solely off of Robinson’s Facebook post.
Robinson did not witness any of the so-called joyride.
Additional reports debunked by the investigation include allegations that Tomasso and Rander-Ricciardi flew a Confederate flag, that the two shouted slurs intended to demean Wellesley’s lesbian population and that one of the two spat on a female student’s car.
The allegation that Tomasso and Rand-Ricciardi sped directly to Wellesley’s Harambee House, student quarters dedicated to African-American students, was also found to be false as neither student had ever heard of such a location.
Babson President Kerry Healey, who previously served as lieutenant governor under former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, acted swiftly following the publication of the allegations and subsequent social media backlash.
Yet on Monday, after the results of the police investigation began to trickle out, Babson administrators walked back their decision to ban Tomasso and Rand-Ricciardi from campus.
Tomasso and Rand-Ricciardi are demanding that Healey and other administrators issue them an apology for making such a rush to judgment. Healey has declined to comment on the matter. Healey, however, was quick to issue an apology to Wellesley College and order the banning of Tomasso and Rand-Riciardi from campus — both came two days after the duo’s ill-fated joyride.
Tomasso and Rand-Ricciardi must still appear for a Babson disciplinary proceeding slated for Friday.