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“Campus Update on Sexual Misconduct” email sparks campus discussion

At 12:30pm on Tuesday May 24 over 500 Carleton students received an email with the subject “Campus Update on Sexual Misconduct” from [email protected]. The email contained the names of 10 current and former Carleton students and ended with the statement: “This is not an exhaustive list.” The email address no longer exists and attempts to contact the senders were not successful.

By 1:30pm, the email had been moved from recipient’s inboxes to spam folders. At 4:35pm, Information Security Officer Rich Graves sent an email to students who received the email clarifying that “this was not an official college communication” and urging students who had information about the email to notify Security Services or the Office of the Dean of Students.

I moved the original message to Junk folders at 1:25pm as a content-neutral anti-spam response. At that time I had no idea who the sender was — my hope was that it was a random internet hoax,” said Graves. “I can’t speak in detail about security or investigation issues. I did spend a little time looking. I have not been asked to look harder,” he said. Dean Livingston declined to comment and deferred to the email sent by Graves.

Pamphlets with the 10 names were also found in the library and in Sayles on Tuesday afternoon.

Later that day Izii Carter ’16 created a Facebook event for Wednesday, May 25 at 10pm called “community meeting re: student-led response.” On Wednesday night, over 100 students gathered in Weitz 236 to decide if there should be a student-led response to the email. At this meeting, students hoped to discuss how to shift the campus’s focus from the email to supporting and protecting survivors of sexual misconduct.

According to comments in an anonymous Google form administered by Carter and displayed at Wednesday’s meeting, the pamphlets found in the library and in Sayles were not distributed by the same group as who sent the email. A comment in the anonymous Google responses displayed around the meeting room noted that survivors of sexual misconduct had not necessarily given consent for the names of their alleged assailants to be emailed or printed publicly.

The Carletonian reached out to all ten students who were named in the email. Of those who responded, some declined to comment and some shared their responses anonymously. One student who was named in the email said that he was surprised by the email because some people named had not had Community Concern Forms filed against them.

Another named student said “The people who sent out this email have injected fear into the students of this college in an attempt to address Carleton’s inadequate sexual misconduct process at the expense of multiple rape victims across campus and our collegiate society as a whole.”

In a critique of the email, another named student emphasized that “there are cases of sexual misconduct at Carleton that aren’t adequately handled in accordance with the wishes of the survivors, but this is not true for all cases.

“These issues need to be properly handled on a case-by-case basis by the involved parties and administration, not thrown to the judgement of the entire student body. Distributing a list of sexual offenders based on word of mouth, without context, may have been intended to protect but only serves to cause further harm and resentment.”

 

Laura Haave, director of the gender and sexuality center was also present at the meeting in order to answer students’ questions about how to best support survivors and how to process the email.

“People naming people on behalf of survivors is not new, but now, it’s happened here at Carleton, and one unintended consequence of that action is that it can lead to focus on whether that action is right or wrong,” Haave said. “It can generate a lot of sympathy for those who were named. It shifts the dialogue away from the fact that sexual violence happens here. My purpose is to try to shift the conversation back to one about survivors and prevention.”

The meeting was facilitated by Carter, but majority rule was used to make decisions about an appropriate response to the email. Carter declined to comment for this article. During the meeting, which ended just after 1am, students planned several events to show solidarity with survivors of sexual misconduct on Carleton’s campus.

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