Letter: Shameful inaction by the University

Every morning I am amazed at the new headlines that show zero progress on appropriately addressing the issue of the “Preseason Scouting Report.” This is neither an issue of free speech nor an unsolvable mystery.

The e-mail is clearly obscene sexual harassment targeted at specific individuals (who have just arrived at Yale!). Harm was caused. Without punishment, this culture will persist and the University — our university — will suffer.

Yesterday the News reported a “dead end” in the investigation into the source of the e-mail (“Origins of e-mail still unknown,” Sept. 7). Dean Miller’s only lead: a call for “civic responsibility,” hoping students will come forward with the authors’ identity. That’s like letting NBA players call their own fouls: It’s not going to happen.

To the administration: People know who wrote this list. Find them. Step up the intensity. Prove to students that these actions won’t be tolerated. Otherwise, Dean Miller better start writing next year’s op-ed. A similar act is going to happen again.

Justin Berk
Sept. 9
The writer is a senior in Pierson College.

Comments

  • Ha!

    Beta males going in for the kill…

  • Y ’10

    Well put Justin

  • Seriously?

    #1- So having respect for women makes you less of a man? Standing up for a better society is a sign of weakness?

    When did being a meathead become a sign of supreme masculinity? Even the most heteronormative and violent of the ancient heroes we idealize (e.g. Achilles, or William Wallace) opposed treating women like meat and stood up for what they believed in.

    You, “Ha!”, are really nothing more than a ridiculous fool, and those who are protecting the authors of the Scouting Report are cowards.

  • OBSERVER2

    Thank you for expressing my thoughts completely, Justin. It angers me that Dean Mary Miller basks in her inaction and wishy-washyness.

    A dead end? Get YDN reporters to do some investigative journalism. Reporting about how there’s been no progress is boring. Get a few reporters on this and when this story breaks, we can all laugh at Dean Mary Miller’s attempt to find these people.

    We all know that the athletic director/coaches and whatnot are covering these people and covering them well. It’s not a matter of not being able to trace an email. It’s a matter of asking around. Someone is bound to say something.

  • Graduate Student

    This is “sexual-harassment”?

    If I write an email to my suitemates and tell them that I think three girls are attractive and list them by name, is that considered sexual harassment? If I write an email to my suitemates and tell them that I would like to have sex with those girls, is that sexual harassment? If I write an email to my sports team and inform them that I think these three females are attractive and I would like to have sex with them, is that sexual harassment?

    The answers are no, no, and no. These are private communications between private people. They are not meant to threaten, harass, or intimidate. Just because the YDN got a hold of a private communication and decided to make it public does not mean that the originators of this communication intended for it to be public. This is, by definition, a private communication. It was not meant to harass, intimidate, or threaten any of the alleged victims.

    It is a shame that these women came to campus under this ugly cloud. However, it is obvious that this ugly cloud was perpetuated if not originated by the Yale Daily News. Emails like this exist on every undergraduate campus across this nation (as well as graduate schools). Their existence is not shocking. this is not even news.

  • pc 2010

    Well put Justin. I hope the administration will follow.

  • Good try

    #5, be glad you haven’t seen the disgusting things that fill this email. Justin is 100% correct, this is sexual harassment. Yale needs to step up to the plate and ExComm the pathetic people who objectified 53 freshman girls on their third day in college.

  • Hmmm

    To “Graduate Student,” the YDN had very little to do with this email being brought to the public eye more so than it already was public knowledge. The email was already common knowledge among the undergraduate populace and administration for many days before the YDN mentioned anything. It was inadvertently forwarded to Yale student disciplinary figures because it was being forwarded to many student bodies and organizations (i.e. male athletics teams and frat houses). Those figures then brought it to the attention of college deans, and soon enough President Levin himself was made aware, along with every authority figure you could think of.

    Also, have you actually seen the email!? It is incredibly degrading and extremely offensive. Had the email simply listed 53 names and said “these women are attractive” there would be no uproar. The email was sexual harassment, no doubt about it. And the email was never meant to be a private means of communication. The purpose of it was to be made public, much like the usual “Gut Lists” that are sent around every term.

    It is incredibly frustrating that this is just going to be forgotten about, and there are a bunch of male athletes and frat boys that are covering up whoever did this. And the administration realizes this but it would get really messy and be horribly distressing to have to punish someone. So lets just say, “aww shucks, we tried” and leave it at that.

    Don’t tell me that the football team doesn’t know who wrote this email. Or go ahead and tell me that, I could use a good laugh.

  • Recent Alum

    #5, I agree completely. Emails like this (or hand-written lists) have been going around for years. It sucks that it became public, but boys will be boys (just as girls will be girls), and I don’t care how high and mighty all these other Yale guys claim to be, I know they all rank in their head and think some of these things, even if they don’t send an email about it.

    Find something more legitimate and more infuriating to crusade about, or people are going to get sick of all the drama and overlook the really important issues. And stop blaming sports teams – Ned Fulmer’s article was bad enough. Stereotyping athletes, lumping them together, and automatically assuming they’re responsible is intolerant and ignorant – talk to some athletes and try to be friends with them before you judge them – many of them are terrific, intelligent people.

  • ROFLCOPTER

    #5 has it right on the money.

    As for all the people saying “everyone knows who wrote it”, why then don’t YOU step forward with the names?

    Plenty of people think they know who did it (I do not), but no one has any proof.

  • Yikes

    As I understand it, the claims about this letter are that certain people should not have to have their feelings hurt. You can call a freshman male a fat, dorky, pimply nerd. But not a freshman female. That is, if I call a particular person ugly, whether it is forbidden depends on who they are.

    So I think what Dean Miller should do is specify exactly who at Yale can be insulted, and who cannot. This would really simplify life a great deal. For example, in the YDN today their are broad swipes against the police in general, and Perotti in particular. Is this OK? Someone wrote that all frats are bad. Can we sat that? At the end of every term, students write evaluations of their professors, and I know for a fact that many of those are pretty mean and make nasty remarks about appearance, etc. Because I do it! Is that OK? Is it OK if the professor is a white male? Or do we have to make sure they are a Gentile and straight and a Republican before we insult them? Surely there is some subset of professors we can abuse to our hearts’ content, so long as we don’t hurt the feelings of the people who actually matter.

    I know this can get complicated, but surely they could sort this out and create a website or something.

  • Alum

    It is similar to last year, when two football players should have been suspended for assaulting others and breaking a window at a commercial establishment.

    No action was taken, and the matter was hushed up. Why? Because the perps were stars. Yale didn’t want to lose them for the Harvard game (which we lost anyway.)

    Again we are at risk of losing some football players if justice is to be done, and the Powers That Be are struggling mightily to sweep the whole matter under the rug.

    A clear double standard in order to protect renagade jocks.

  • BR2010

    #s 5, 9, 10 and 11, we need to get some things straight here.

    The first has to do with the content. The e-mail did not simply rank these women. It also included some really disgusting, vulgar remarks. It also included contact information for some of them. So the message was not only “hot or not,” it was “hot or not and where you can find her.” Creepy.

    Second, this wasn’t a private conversation. The writers took pains to remain anonymous, implying that they intended wide circulation, and they sent it not to one or two people, but to panlists. It’s not private if you’re sending it to a panlist, and it’s definitely not private if it becomes viral, as it did.

    Ranking women by attractiveness happens. But when you write it down, write disgusting and derogatory comments, take the time to find out personal details, and forward it to a whole lot of people, then it becomes harassment.

    This isn’t a case of boys will be boys. It’s normal for boys–and girls–to talk about who is hot. It is NOT normal to take the time to do something as disgusting and hurtful as this.

  • Yale ’10

    Justin – I completely agree. The administration should just grab the football team and waterboard the jerk who wrote the e-mail. We have to get the name no matter what.

  • @10

    Or we have proof, but don’t plan on offering it, since we agree with #5 and #11. Solidarity, kids.

  • @BR2010

    How can something be ‘harassment’ if it wasn’t intended to reach the people discussed (it clearly wasn’t).

  • @#16

    You’re going to have to explain why you think it “clearly wasn’t” intended to be seen by the women it was about. It’s not obvious to me that they didn’t want these girls to see the e-mail.

    You also have to explain why that matters in the context of Yale’s sexual harassment policy, which condemns “nonconsensual sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct” which “has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating or hostile academic or work environment.” This e-mail clearly falls into that category.

    The authors wanted lots of people to read awful things not about women in general, but about specific women. They made it public. If, for example, they had posted this list on bulletin boards on campus, would it matter if they had known whether or not those specific girls would walk by and see it? No, because they still targeted them in a public domain, which is clearly harassment.

  • Yikes

    I am completely serious: the view here seems to be that you can say what you want about some people, but not others. So to prevent future problems, I think the Dean should clearly state who we can say ugly things about, and clarify the nature of the ugliness allowed. Then she should punish anyone who violates the rules. Otherwise this kind of thing will just keep happening.

    Personally, I hate frats and athletes, and think it we should be able to say what we want about them. For example, people who run around saying things like “all athletes are stupid and have no business being at Yale” are in my book right-on. And if they hurts the feelings of Yale student athletes, and makes them feel unwanted, then too bad: they should be in the group we can abuse to our hearts’ content.

    But my personal prejudices should be irrelevant; we need clear codification of line we are all supposed to take, so we can obey.

  • Anon

    @Yikes-

    Fail troll is fail. No one responded before because no one is taking you seriously.

  • Yale ’10

    #19 Anon

    Or they realized Yikes was correct. How does one pick what groups can or can’t be commented on? “Free speech”, in the pure liberal sense, applies to everyone or no one.