The Words of the van der Stok Family

Bard Free Press Bigotry and Inaccuracies

Sammi Vanderstok
November 2010

To the Editor of the Bard Free Press,

I would like to inform you of a written article titled "The Moonies Next Door" that is both biased, discriminatory, and uses my name in a deliberately false manner. The article is on page 10 of the Volume 11, Issue 2, October 2009 edition of the Bard Free Press and it was written by Wendy Lotterman and Anna Swann Pye.

In September of 2009 Ms. Lotterman and Ms. Swann Pye, along with another gentlemen, visited the UTS campus and asked to have an interview with me, Sammi Vanderstok, about Unificationism. I agreed to the interview, and told them that I was the administrative assistant of UTS. However, when I discovered this article earlier this month, I was surprised to see that Ms. Lotterman and Ms. Swann Pye somehow turned me into a student "getting her PhD at the Barrytown Seminary." I never told them this. In fact, I am a junior at Marist College and although I am a member of the Unification Church, I am not a scholar on Unificationism. However, this was probably inconvenient for them and so they lied about it in the article.

I was also surprised by this article because it used the word "Moonie" to describe Unification Church members. However, this word is pejorative and derogatory, and I doubt that the Bard Free Press would allow any of their writers to use pejorative words to describe any other ethnicity or religious group. The Unification Church has documented letters from the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other newspapers stating that they will never use that word because it is derogatory and is used to insult and make fun of Unification Church members. The 2 authors mentioned in their article that President Botstein gave them the okay to use that word, but all that does is make President Botstein look like a bigot. As a Unification church member, I am insulted by their use of the word "Moonie" and I would ask that they, and President Botstein, never write an article with that word again.

The article also quotes President Botstein about Bard's relation to the Unification Theological Seminary and I would like the writers to clarify that what President Botstein said is his opinion and not documented fact. Botstein accuses members of my church of kidnapping young people, which is not true and in fact, the exact opposite happened where Unification Church members were kidnapped and systematically stripped of their faith and right to religious freedom.

But worst of all, President Botstein appears to admit that there was an Unificationist professor on campus that was denied tenure because of his religious affiliation. To me, this is not only shameful, but also surprising that the President of Bard would publicly admit that they actively discriminate against Unification Church members (whatever happened to Equal Employment rights?). As his defense, he states that this professor was trying to "scope out Bard with intentions of purchasing the school," but once again, this is not fact and should not be stated as such (unless they have it documented somewhere, which I doubt because I don't' think it was ever said).

Although I appreciate that these two ladies made the effort to directly interview a member of the Unification Church and tried to share some of my opinions, I am disappointed by the level of artistic license they used in explaining my credentials, their use of pejorative words to identify members of my faith, and their lack of fact-checking on President Botstein's words. I would ask that as the editor, you bring this letter to the attention of the 2 writers and either reprint a more accurate edition of this article, write an apology for allowing discriminatory articles to be written in your newspaper, or remove this article from the archive.

I would appreciate your prompt reply to this letter. Thank you and have a good day.


Sammi Vanderstok


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