Two Babson students who sparked a social-media firestorm last month when they took a Donald Trump victory lap at Wellesley College were cleared of wrongdoing, according to their lawyers.
Babson College’s Honor Board found Edward Tomasso and Parker Rand-Ricciardi not responsible on counts of harassment and disorderly conduct Monday for their actions on Nov. 9.
In a hearing before the board Friday, Wellesley’s campus police were not able to present any evidence that the men were guilty of spitting at students, or yelling racial and homophobic slurs out the window, as many alleged on social media.
Wellesley College is Hillary Clinton’s alma mater.
Wellesley students accused the men of antagonizing students and even spitting in the direction of one woman. Tomasso and Rand-Ricciardi were identified quickly on social media.
“The board determined that they did not engage in the acts that were so widely and unfairly reported way back at the outset of all of this,” said Brad Bailey, Tomasso’s lawyer. “There was no evidence that they spat on anybody, no evidence that they made or directed racial comments toward anybody, no evidence that they disparaged anybody, and no evidence that made homophobic comments, all of which was reported.”
Lawyers for the men said following the incident both men were immediately expelled from their fraternities and from campus following the incident.
“This is a case which illustrates what most of us know: that if institutions feel they can act with complete impunity, unscrutinized and knowing that they are unscrutinized, feeling as though they cannot be challenged, the results often will not be pretty,” said Jeffrey Robbins, Rand-Ricciardi’s lawyer. “What Babson’s officials did here was certainly not pretty.”
The case quickly became a campus free-speech issue as the students were punished before evidence was presented.
Babson declined to comment.
“As a matter of policy, and in accordance with Federal law, Babson College does not comment on specific student conduct matters,” college spokesman Michael Chumra said.
Bailey said for now Tomasso was just grateful to be exonerated after suffering damage to his reputation and academic semester.
“I think it’s an extremely cautionary tale about rushing judge and forming opinions and conclusions before allegations are vetted,” he said. “It shows in particular what can happen with social media when things go viral and people post things based on hearsay and second-and third-hand information.”