Vassar College Students Raise Thousands to Counter Westboro Baptist Protest
A protest from the anti-gay group known as the Westboro Baptist Church, as one of the most polarizing and divisive organizations in the nation, tends to elicit a reaction to anyone caught in their crosshairs. Typically, that reaction is somewhere along the lines of “revulsion,” but when a group of students at Vassar College learned that the group would be arriving at their school, they chose instead to use the upcoming confrontation as a call to arms.
Westboro Baptist, a church famous for picketing the funerals of soldiers as a means of gaining national attention for their anti-homosexual message, has also been known to occasionally take aim at othe arrive at U.S. colleges and universities that the group has deemed to be too accepting of the LGBT community.
When students learned that the group had announced plans to hold a protest at Vassar through the group’s website, a few of the college’s students opted to take a different approach in responding to the group’s arrival by using it as a catalyst for helping their fellow students. Just hours after the announcement by Westboro Baptist, Vassar students had set-up a Crowdrise.com account to help raise money for the Trevor Project, an organization devoted to providing aid, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention for LGBT youth, and pledged to raise a $100 for every minute of the group’s protest.
“The Vassar community is so creative and intelligent, and I look forward to working with students and staff to figure out a response that shows the strength and inclusiveness of our community,” said Judy Jarvis, director of the Vassar LGBT center.
While the students at Vassar had originally only hoped to raise just $4,500, the effort had amassed over $57,593 at the time of this article’s publication, an amount that is over ten times the original goal, with many weeks still left before the date of the WBC’s protest.
Westboro Baptist has frequently made empty-threats to protest high-profile events without following through, such as the funerals of the shooting victims at Aurora, Colo. and Newton, Conn., as well as President Obama’s inauguration. The group has also caught the ire of the internet activist collective known as Anonymous, having hacked the church’s website and exposed the names of its members in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.