Anti-gay mailer faces ExComm

The Yale student who sent an anti-gay e-mail to the Yale community on National Coming Out Day last month may be disciplined by the administration — but not for what he said in the message, Yale College Assistant Dean Jill Cutler said.

The student will be taken before the Yale College Executive Committee, the top disciplinary body for undergraduates, for sending a mass e-mail, Cutler said Thursday. LGBT Co-op Coordinator Anna Wipfler ’09 said administrators told the Co-op that the student had been identified as a male in Jonathan Edwards College.

Cutler said the student was referred to ExComm by Information Technology Services, not by the Dean’s Office. The student will be charged with the misuse of Yale facilities, she said.

“Content is not the issue here,” Cutler said. “It’s a violation of the Undergraduate Regulations about University services.”

Two weeks ago, ITS identified the sender of the e-mail, which was sent on the morning of Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day. Signed by the “National Organization to Gain Acceptance for Your Sins,” or N.O.G.A.Y.S., the message — and related postering around campus — condemned homosexuality as a sin and coincided with an LGBT celebration.

Not all students who send mass e-mails are referred to ExComm. The Committee regularly handles cases involving plagiarism and other issues of academic integrity, but Chief Information Officer Philip Long said ITS rarely refers cases to the Committee.

Of the 71 cases examined by ExComm in the 2004-05 academic year, the last year for which statistics are available, the majority involved cheating or various alcohol-related offenses. Only two of the cases involved the sending of “fraudulent e-mails,” according to the Executive Committee Chair’s Report.

Long declined to comment specifically on the case, but said ITS looks at the content of a mass e-mail in addition to the number of students who received it when determining whether to refer a violator for discipline.

“ITS does have the right to refer students to ExComm,” he said. “[But] it doesn’t happen often.”

Jessica Kimball ’08 said although she sent an unauthorized mass e-mail to almost every student about a party last year, she was not taken to ExComm. Instead, she was told to write a letter of apology to ITS and Silliman College Dean Hugh Flick, she said.

Kimball said she does not think the e-mailer should face significant disciplinary action for sending the e-mail or for its content.

“How many frats send out emails every single weekend?” Kimball said. “The email was offensive … [but] I don’t think he should be ExCommed.”

Wipfler said the Dean’s Office told LGBT leaders that the student received a warning about sending unauthorized mass e-mails — the standard protocol for that offense — but would not otherwise be disciplined. She said she was not aware the student would be taken to the Committee, and the Co-op did not ask the University to pursue disciplinary action against him.

Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg previously declined to comment on specific disciplinary cases.

Wipfler and nine other members of the Co-op are scheduled to meet with Trachtenberg and the student Friday morning to discuss the incident. The Co-op will discuss the sentiment behind the e-mail and postering and the harm that it caused, Wipfler said.

“We want to explain just how hurtful it was to our group in particular, if not to other people who received the e-mail as well,” she said.

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