Still no action on e-mail

Though the Yale College Dean’s Office has made little progress in identifying the author of the e-mail known as “The Preseason Scouting Report” more than a month after administrators began investigating its origin, students have continued to press for disciplinary action against the e-mail’s creator.

In September, administrators attempted to trace the origins of the e-mail electronically, which lists the names, hometowns and residential colleges of 53 freshman woman and ranks them based on physical attractiveness. It was sent from an anonymous e-mail account, and Yale Information Technology Services was unable to identify a source. At the time, ITS Director Philip Long said ITS tried to use the e-mail’s digital postmark to trace it back to its original author, but they could not identify the source.

Since then, the Dean’s Office has apparently done little else.

Now the message’s electronic trail easily could have gone cold, said Michael Fischer, a computer science professor.

“In general, these things are very hard to trace,” he said, explaining that ITS may have had to track the e-mail chain through multiple servers and e-mail accounts.

If the original e-mail account was registered with a non-Yale e-mail service, such as Gmail, the service provider would have to cooperate by providing access to that account, Fischer said. The e-mail service company may refuse to hand over such information without a subpoena, he added.

No such subpoena has been issued, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an e-mail Tuesday evening.

Last month, at the behest of the Dean’s Office, the coaches and captains of athletic teams, who were among the first to receive the e-mail, began discussing the incident with team members. Administrators have remained tight-lipped about any recent efforts to investigate the incident, although Miller confirmed the investigation has not come to an end.

Though action has stalled at the administrative level, some students are still calling for action.

“It’s disappointing to a lot of people to see that the administration took a weak response to it,” said Alice Buttrick ’10, the Women’s Center public relations coordinator. “It’s not very encouraging, given the incredibly outraged response of the campus as a whole and not just the reactionary fringe feminist groups.”

Blair Lanier ’11 said she and other members of the Women’s Center had spoken informally with administrators about the incident but that the Dean’s Office had not acted on the Center’s concerns.

“We’ve expressed our frustration with the fact that nothing’s happening,” said Lanier, the Women’s Center’s business coordinator. “They have not made any concrete promises or promised any solutions of any kind.”

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