Vulgar e-mail targets freshmen

University administrators are investigating an anonymous e-mail circulating through the Yale undergraduate community that ranks certain women in the freshman class based on their physical attractiveness.

The e-mail message — which was originally sent from an anonymous e-mail account — came to the attention of administrators and freshman counselors earlier this week after first being circulated among athletic teams and fraternities. Titled “The Preseason Scouting Report,” the message lists the names, hometowns and residential colleges of 53 freshman women, who are organized into categories based on appearance. Some of the names are accompanied by vulgar commentary on the students’ Facebook photos or Facebook profiles.

The e-mail classified the women into several categories, including “sobriety,” “five beers,” “ten beers” and “blackout,” based on perceived degree of desirability. Some are also given “overall grades” of “HIT” or “miss.” (The News obtained the e-mail but is not reprinting it in full to protect the privacy of the students named in the message.)

The Yale College Dean’s Office informed residential college masters of the e-mail Tuesday morning, prompting some masters and deans to alert freshman counselors that they might need to provide support to affected freshmen.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the University’s investigation into the e-mail is still in its early stages and that she is unsure whether disciplinary action can be taken against its author or authors.

“I can’t prejudge whether the e-mail has violated University regulations,” Miller said.

Responses to the e-mail differed across residential colleges. Administrators in Davenport College, the first to publicly respond to the incident, devoted a portion of a freshman advising meeting Tuesday to the situation.

“Because it targeted freshmen, we thought this would be a good way to shift away from who knows what and the rumors and try to bring it out into the open,” Davenport College Master Richard Schottenfeld said, adding that he planned to meet with all Davenport upperclassmen about the e-mail in the coming weeks.

At some colleges, including Ezra Stiles and Jonathan Edwards colleges, administrators advised freshman counselors to prepare to field questions from students about the e-mail, several freshman counselors said in interviews Wednesday.

At the same time, three other freshman counselors said they had not been informed of the e-mail by their respective college administrators.

The Dean’s Office is also working with Athletics Director Tom Beckett and Senior Associate Athletic Director Amy Backus to investigate the origins of the e-mail, Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said. The e-mail has been heavily circulated among athletic teams.

“We actually reached out to just let [the Athletics Department] know what was going on because we can’t pinpoint who did it,” Gentry said. “It may not have been someone from the Athletics Department who did it.”

Should the case go before the University’s Executive Committee, any disciplinary proceedings in the case would remain private.

Schottenfeld emphasized the importance of personal responsibility in preventing incidents such as this.

“If you get an e-mail that’s wrong, people are encouraged to respond back to the panlist and say, ‘That’s a jerky thing to do and I disapprove of it,’ ” Schottenfeld said. “It’s public condemnation that makes it clear that whoever’s doing this is a pretty small and not particularly respected minority, and that it’s not cool.”

Gentry said Wednesday night that administrators have not yet planned any forum for discussion about the incident among the undergraduate community, adding that he believes such a gathering would be a good idea.

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