Origins of e-mail still unknown

The Yale College Dean’s Office has reached a dead end in its investigation into the origins of the e-mail known as “The Preseason Scouting Report,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said Tuesday.

Yale Information Technology Services, working with the Dean’s Office and the Yale Police Department, has failed to trace the source of the e-mail, which was originally sent from an anonymous account, Miller said in an interview. Still, should additional leads come to light, Miller said the possibility of disciplinary action could be explored by the Yale College Executive Committee.

“I wouldn’t say that the case is closed,” Miller said.

The “Scouting Report” e-mail came to the attention of University administrators last week after being circulated widely among campus panlists. 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.

Tracing an e-mail involves deciphering an e-mail’s digital postmark, ITS director Philip Long said Tuesday. Whether an e-mail’s postmark can confidently reveal the e-mail’s original author is dependent on what mail system was used to send the e-mail and what route the e-mail took. Long said ITS explored all the different e-mail paths that were made available to them.

Ultimately, ITS could not identify the e-mail’s author.

Miller explained in a separate statement to the News on Tuesday afternoon that members of Yale athletic teams were the first to receive the “Scouting Report,” prompting the Dean’s Office to start discussions with coaches and captains.

Football captain Paul Rice ’10 said his team, like other teams across the University, has been discussing the incident in the past few days, adding that the conversations have now come to a close.

Miller published an op-ed in Monday’s News denouncing the “Scouting Report” and throwing her support behind Sunday’s community forum entitled “Let’s Talk About Sex: A Conversation about Sex at Yale.” The event was co-sponsored by the Yale Women’s Center, sororities, women’s athletic teams and cultural houses.

While members of the Women’s Center board said they felt Sunday’s discussion was productive, Women’s Center business coordinator Blair Lanier ’11 expressed disappointment with the University’s apparent failure to trace the e-mail’s origins.

“The Women’s Center wishes that for once there could be a specific incident with a positive conclusion,” Lanier said. “Although we opened some channels of communication, the lack of an answer leaves everybody back where we started.”

While University administrators have so far focused on determining whether any disciplinary action can be taken against the e-mail’s creator, the freshman women listed in the message have found support at the residential college level from their masters, deans and freshman counselors.

Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi ’13, who was named in the e-mail and who published an op-ed in Monday’s News responding to the “Scouting Report,” said she thinks that the University could and should do more in response to the situation.

“I think it’s a bit disappointing,” Neghaiwi said, adding that she believes many students who received the e-mail know the identity of its writer. “I just wish there would be some more definitive action behind it.”

Neghaiwi said she has no plans to file a complaint against the e-mail’s author, preferring to leave any disciplinary action to the Dean’s Office.

When asked about the possibility that students might know who wrote the e-mail, Miller responded by saying it is their “civic responsibility” to come forward with the author’s, or authors’, identity.

Comments

  • Y ’10

    I would say the case is definitely closed as far as the dean’s office is concerned. They don’t actually care about finding who was responsible or preventing future incidents. They just want it to blow over so they don’t look bad. Dean Miller has given us nothing but evasive, noncommittal statements that don’t actually get to the heart of the matter. I’m so sick of the way Yale deals with these issues. They just want to have a random discussion for face value and then have the issue fade away. Actually being invested in the well being of the students and taking substantive steps to prevent harassment is most definitely not yale’s priority.

  • Y12

    Oh come ON. Origins unknown? Really? REALLY? Sure, they might not be able to trace the individuals, but I don’t think there’s ANYONE who doesn’t know the general source. Now do something.

  • Bob

    @#2

    Do something? Like what? Make the assumption that it came from someone on a sports team, so expel all male athletes?

  • asale

    What the hell guys? Are you honestly going to tell me that the Dean is ‘pretending’ to do something just because she doesn’t wanna look bad or make the school look bad? Are you HONESTLY going to tell me that she doesn’t care if the freshmen’s first impression of Yale is a bad one? People just go on and on about condemning her for saying that she won’t ‘prejudge whether or not this was sexual harassment’, well, if anything it’s the people who react to stuff like this by saying ‘quit recuiting athletes’ ‘shut down the misogynistic frats’ who are the real bigots, quick to bind a group to it’s stereotype. For all I know, this could’ve been the work of some random dude who decided to spam different frat’s panlists. If the Dean decided to get her facts straight before labeling the guilty party as a sexual harasser, I think that her choice was the appropriate one. And please quit assuming that having a 20 billion dollar endowment and nearly limitless resources means that a person in the internet can’t remain anonymous. Honestly, how would you feel if you knew that Yale could easily trace every single one of your key strokes back to you..

  • haha

    You guys are missing the point.

    They know who did it, and they also know that the guys who did it are a valuable asset to a certain sports program. The Athletic Director is covering their asses so hardcore on this one.

  • GeeWhiz

    Why are you assuming that a *male* did it? So heteronormative.

  • ROFLCOPTER

    Sounds to me like we got ourselves a witch-hunt.

  • Bob

    OK, haha, do tell. Who did it? Post their names, and post your real name and contact info.

  • @Bob

    Don’t get rid of sports teams, don’t expel our athletes- get rid of the frats. Period. They put on Relay for Life, and they… well…. okay, that’s about it. Plenty of outstanding gentlemen belong to Yale’s frats, but lumped together under that umbrella culture of anti-intellectualism, they do nothing but undermine this school. It’s a mob mentality, and it has ruined plenty of kids who wouldn’t otherwise get into this kind of thing.

  • Yale 05

    To those that claim to know, name names. This is an anonymous forum.

  • Y’10 too

    @asale How can it be wrong to “label the guilty party a sexual harasser” – when this is textbook sexual harassment? Making predatory or invasive sexual comments towards a person who wants nothing to do with you – that’s a pretty generic definition of sexual harassment. Even if the administration won’t find the culprit, I don’t see why they can’t at least label the offense committed as one of sexual harassment.

  • sshole

    Playing devil’s advocate: I believe the relevant legal issue would be whether the initial email was from a single transmitter to a single recipient, i.e., equivalent to a “private conversation.”

    Unless you are advocating punishment for “thought crime.”

    Please note: no, I do not condone the sentiments contained within the email; however, I am not sure that current law (which lags the evolution of technology)–and especially the ever-vague area of “harassment”–is set up to deal with this particular scenario.

    Further, emails sent from anonymous accounts and/or from a public computer are, obviously, rather difficult to pin on any particular person (that said: the fact that the email was likely sent via the aforementioned situation indicates knowledge of wrong-doing on the sender’s part. THAT said: not all crimes end up being “punishable,” even if they are decidedly NOT “victimless.”)

  • Alexander Jhin (JE ’01, MS ’02)

    Based on Yale’s “Policies on Expression” the University should not formally sanction such speech, no matter how repulsive it might seem. The University should meet speech with speech, not punishment. From the Policies on Expression: “…even when some members of the university community fail to meet their social and ethical responsibilities, the paramount obligation of the university is to protect their right to free expression… If the university’s overriding commitment to free expression is to be sustained, secondary social and ethical responsibilities must be left to the informal processes of suasion, example, and argument.” However, Yale’s Sexual Harassment Policy violates it’s own Policies on Expression by stating: “verbal conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of… creating [a] hostile academic environment…” “may result in serious disciplinary action.” So, in other words, speech is free, unless it’s sexual.

    Students and administration can be outraged, hold protests, burn dummies in effigy but they must not debase themselves by committing the ultimate evil of censorship in order to discourage the much lesser travails of distasteful discourse. “The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.”

  • asale

    @#11 Nothing wrong with that at all.. My point was, and I guess this is what I understood from what Dean Miller said, was that she didn’t wanna condemn this person without carefully reading the University’s bylaws first. I mean, I don’t know much about sexual harassment, but it seems to me that these emails weren’t sent to these freshmen girls (even though I’m pretty sure that this person was well aware that they would get wind of it at some point). I mean, does this constitute some sort of private conversation and something else to consider is if the parties that forwarded these emails around school, would they be the guilty parties since they are the ones that made these freshmen girls feel targeted.

    My point is, I’d rather wait to accuse somebody of something and get my facts straight, especially of something as serious as this, before having to bite my own words 30 minutes later if it turns out that this email does not qualify as sexual harassment.

    Think of it this way, what if a guy takes advantage of a girl (which is despicable) but does not technically ‘rape her’ … Should he be condemned and flagged as a rapist and have his entire life ruined when it later turns out that all he did was take advantage of her (which is reprehensible, however not worth ruining the person’s life over..)?

  • Y’10

    “I wouldn’t say that the case is closed,” Miller said.

    what a splendid remark from dean miller!

  • y09

    Asale:

    “Think of it this way, what if a guy takes advantage of a girl (which is despicable) but does not technically ‘rape her’”

    Please outline a scenario in which this occurs *without* it being rape.

  • Alum ’91

    So if everyone knows (and I am sure the names ARE known to many, this info doesn’t stay quiet for long), where are people who should come forward with those names? Why the silence?

    As an alum, I am so disappointed in those students who know the names of the offenders and are enabling this silence. YOU are the current stewards of Yale, YOU are the ones who are called upon to notice the wrongs and injustices you find at Yale and to do your best to right those wrongs. You owe it to your classmates and to all honorable, decent members of the Yale to attend to this honorably.

    Keeping silent on the names is a dishonor to Yale. Many classes go through great pains to right the wrongs they see at Yale, and it takes bravery to do so. I remember well the students who forced Skull and Bones into accepting women, and the unbelievable threats, pressure, and fury they received from former Bonesmen after they tapped women without “asking” the old Bonesmen for permission. It was uncomfortable, and they were afraid (and rightfully so), and they still did it because they knew that doing the right thing was more important than being comfortable and not making waves.

    Make this right. If these students ARE star athletes as some have hinted, then I as an alum would be PROUD to know that my alma mater put integrity ahead of a win at the Harvard-Yale game. No win is worth losing sight of our principles.

    Not telling is the wrong thing to do. A lie of omission is still a lie.

    Just do it. Call the Dean.

  • asale

    Vulnerable girl just breaks up with boyfriend and cries her eyes out to her male best friend who, for a while now has liked this girl.. Innocent (or not so much) guy confuses signals and takes advantage of this girl, not knowing any better. Girl regrets it next morning and calls rape.

    Another case (real one), girl who has a boyfriend goes out with a guy, gets drunk with the guy, takes guy back to her place, sleeps with him. Guy spends the night there. It turns out the girl was black out and regrets it next morning because she has a boyfriend and calls rape. Three weeks later, she sleeps with that same guy again, this time sober. Are you honestly gonna call this rape?

    And if this turns out to actually legally be considered rape, then I would have to say that I find that law unfit since ruining somebody’s life (which rape accussations do) over something like that is not only wrong but also disrespectful towards women who are actually raped (as opposed to people who have second thoughts after the fact).

    But anyways, don’t wanna shift the argument.. My point was that it is better to be well informed if you’re going to make big accusations because biting your own words can have more catastrophic consequences than waiting to pass judgment.

  • @asale

    Suggesting that women “cry rape” because they regret something they initially wanted points to an incredibly misogynistic way of thinking. It suggests that you think women are too hysterical or confused to know what they want, and that should they do something they regret, they’re so shrewish and vindictive as to get back at an innocent person by reporting it as a crime. Do you really think that people do this any kind of significant percentage of the time? If so, that’s pretty extreme. The fact that you are willing to classify an entire gender in this way signals nothing more than a deep-seated dislike of and lack of respect for them.

  • asale

    This discussion really belongs elsewhere, but if you want to go there I will.. I never said at any point that ALL women cry rape, all I said was that it happens (the frequency with which it happens is not what I’m arguing here btw), and you would be extremely uninformed, ignorant and naive to assume that there are no such cases. I never attempted to classify an entire gender. If anything, you are the one boxing an entire gender under a personality type by assuming that there is no such thing as a “shrewish and vindictive” woman. Again, I’m not saying that all woman are like that, or even that many women are like that, just saying that they exist. Don’t see how a point against it can be made.

    And besides, my point was that I’d rather get my facts straight before condemning somebody of something, especially something so serious as this (whether or not you condone their behavior), and thus I believe that Dean Miller’s initial response was the correct one.

  • nycrican2

    Gee, I wonder if this story is related in any way to the missing graduate school student? Maybe she knew who sent the email and was about to blow that person’s cover?

  • Player

    Many of the comments here hint at the football team. Let me tell you two things. First, if the football team had made the list, I would have gotten it. Second, the first two weeks we were on campus, we had meetings and practices from 8am-10pm, with no more than 10 minutes between events. No one on the football team had the time, or energy for that matter, to put something like this together.

  • harry potter

    LOL