BY OLIVIA MARBLE’21
If you search “Daniel Hect” on Google, the first result links to his Twitter account, which, before it was disabled, showed that he had liked an array of subtly — and not so subtly — racist tweets.
Although his Twitter page has since been deleted, screenshots of the tweets he liked have been preserved by Mount Holyoke students and online through a Mount Holyoke student Facebook group. According to these screenshots, Hect has tweeted in support of both President Trump and Rick Santorum. Hect also liked a tweet that said, “My brother was killed by a drunk driver who was here illegally 10 years ago from Mexico. BUILD THAT WALL!” (@Lonewolf2347).
I believe these tweets indicate that Hect should not work at this campus. Throughout his presidency, Trump has continuously spoken and acted in racist, sexist and homophobic ways, such as calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, banning travel from Muslim majority countries, talking about women in degrading ways and choosing Mike Pence — known for his ultra-conservative, evangelical views and rampant homophobia — as his Vice President. Rick Santorum is known for his offensive comments about LGBTQ+ people. The tweet Hect liked about “building the wall” implies that undocumented immigrants are criminals and plays into the stereotype that Mexican immigrants are violent.
In a forum, Hect said that he does not support Trump and only tweeted in support of him because of the few good things he believes Trump has done. He also said that he liked the tweet about building the wall to support the victim of the drunk driving accident. These explanations do not alleviate my concerns that he is not fit to be the chief of police in a diverse community such as Mount Holyoke.
It concerns me that the College hired someone who has publicly contributed to racist and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. A large portion of Mount Holyoke’s student body is LGBTQ+, and many students of color have previously reported Campus Police treating them unjustly. In the United States as a whole, it is very difficult for people of color to trust police officers because of the many incidences of police brutality against people of color. I do not understand how the hiring committee could see that Hect had a public account of arguably racist tweets and still decide to hire him.
Hect’s comment about how he reconsidered his tweets only after students raised concerns could also imply that the hiring committee did not see them. This alarmingly parallels the hire of Sean Mulveyhill, a dining hall worker who has been placed on leave after being accused of sexually assaulting a student. If you adjust the search settings on Google to only include posts before March 2018, when Mulveyhill was hired, the first page of results is full of articles about his involvement in the intense bullying Phoebe Prince faced before her suicide. In both the case of Mulveyhill and Hect, it is concerning that the results of these simple Google searches were either overlooked or not sought out.
President Sonya Stephens announced in an email addressing the Mulveyhill incident that she will be convening a Hiring Practice Task Force supported by external experts. I am glad that the College is taking action to review its hiring process, but I am still shocked and appalled that the current hiring process overlooked or did not find these concerning results of two simple Google searches. I believe the hiring process as it is now is flawed, and I can only hope that these incidents will bring about positive change.