Article Image
Left: Courtesy of Columbia University / Right: Michael Edmonson for Spectator

Vlasov tore down rainbow stickers that read “All Are Welcome” and replaced them with signs reading “Remember Sodom and Gomorrah."

A physics Ph.D. candidate who tore down signs promoting tolerance of LGBTQ people in Pupin Hall was banned from the building and relieved of his teaching assistant duties last week.

Andrey Vlasov, a student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, admitted he had committed the acts of vandalism to students in his Intro to Experimental Physics lab via an email obtained by Spectator.

According to Vlasov’s email, he tore down rainbow stickers that read “You are Welcome Here” and replaced them with signs reading “Remember Sodom and Gomorrah,” a reference to the Old Testament passage in which God destroys the two cities as punishment for the sexual deviancy of their citizens.

Vlasov also wrote that he had been banned from entering Pupin Hall until his trial, set for this week.

A University spokesperson told Spectator that Vlasov’s TA duties have been reassigned to other instructors “for the time being,” and that the University could not comment on the specifics of his case, as the investigation is ongoing. Vlasov did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Keefe Mitman, CC ’19, said he saw Vlasov tearing down an Office of University Life sign hung on a bathroom door in Pupin last week and reported him to the physics department. The sign read, “Please use the restroom that is most consistent with your gender identity.”

“I saw this TA walk to the bathroom, read one of the gender-neutral signs taped to the bathroom door, give a look of disgust, and then rip it off and throw it away,” Mitman said. “I was honestly stunned.”

Vlasov received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Russia before moving to the United States. The majority of his biography on the physics department’s website describes his recent conversion to Orthodox Christianity, “the only true faith.” | @aaronpholmes

physics pupin TA LGBTQ