While spring break was carefree for most Yalies, at least three black students received a racist e-mail full of slurs and threats.
A report has been filed with the Yale police, which is currently conducting investigations with the FBI to determine who sent the e-mail — the sole source of evidence thus far. Because the individual who sent the e-mail used an America Online account, officials have been unable to determine if the message was sent by a Yale student.
Yale Police Lt. Michael Patten described the e-mail’s content as “offensive” but declined to elaborate on its content.
“It was a lot of racist statements,” he said.
University Secretary Linda Lorimer, who sent an e-mail to all Yale undergraduates Friday informing them of the incident, urged those who have received similar e-mails to forward them to Yale Police Chief James Perotti “so we can do our best to try and find out who’s behind it,” she said.
Rashayla Brown ’04, a staff member at the Afro-American Cultural Center, said the controversial e-mail was sent to her on March 13. She said her initial reaction was to ignore it.
“I didn’t know if it should be taken seriously,” she said. “But when I read the last line, which seemed like a threat, [I determined] it warranted police investigation.”
Julianna Bentes ’04, who also received the e-mail, said the administration was very helpful in addressing her concerns.
“I’ve been impressed with how responsible as a whole the administration has been,” she said.
But both Bentes and Brown said the e-mail underscores racial issues they say the University has not yet adequately addressed.
“I hope this is not another issue to be swept under the rug by the administration,” Brown said.
Shelita Stewart ’04, a member of Concerned Black Students at Yale, sent an e-mail to top Yale administrators and members of the African American Studies Department on March 16 that called attention to what she said was a lack of administrative action regarding racial issues at Yale. In her e-mail, Stewart referenced a campus incident that occurred last year in which a student received similarly threatening e-mails after her room was broken into and a racist message was written on her white board.
“This incident is almost a year to the day of the exposure of the Katherine Lo incident and other race-related incidents of last spring,” Stewart said. “This demonstrates that the administration’s efforts to address these issues over the past year have not been effective.”
Stewart said she hoped her e-mail would be “a step to raise awareness about the [offensive] e-mail.”
Bentes said Assistant Yale College dean and Afro-American Cultural Center Director Pamela George has contacted past and current board members at the center to create a forum in the near future about the e-mail and larger issues associated with it.
George was unavailable for comment.
Patten said if the individual who sent the e-mail is caught, the perpetrator can expect to be charged with harassment.
“There may be additional federal crimes,” he said. “At the minimum, as a state crime it’s harassment.”