gutmann

Gutmann lauded students for speaking out against an email that told women to get drunk and wear tight clothes to a party.

Photo: Daniel Xu / The Daily Pennsylvanian

President Amy Gutmann spoke out against a suggestive email that sparked a protest against rape culture, condemning it as having “no place” at Penn.

“I was aghast when I heard about that email,” Gutmann said in a meeting with The Daily Pennsylvanian on Tuesday. “It has no place in a civil, respectful university.”

OZ, an off-campus organization, was thrust into campus and national spotlight for an email the group sent to an undisclosed listserv of freshmen girls. The email contained an invitation to a party with lines such as “We’re looking for the fun ones/And say f**k off to a tease,” and, “Tonight is your first showing/So please wear something tight.”

In response, a group of students obtained the email and printed it out on more than 600 flyers posted around campus, emblazoned over with the words “THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE,” and “WE ARE WATCHING.”

In the interview Tuesday, Gutmann praised the actions of the students who spoke out.

“I was very proud of the student response to it,” Gutmann said. “It was an entirely appropriate response. That’s what we have our speech and responsibility for, to stand up for respectful, not disrespectful, speech.”

She went on to highlight the status of OZ as an off-campus group that does not abide by school regulations or policies, referring to a letter the University sends to incoming freshmen and parents cautioning them of such organizations.

“We want to tell students and parents that to join clubs that are not recognized by the university, you do so at your peril,” Gutmann said. “Yes, you have a right to do so — you have a right of free association — but that doesn’t mean we approve of what clubs do. They basically go against the very well thought through and important values of our community in how we treat one another.”

OZ, along with groups such as APES, THEOS, OAX, The Owl Society and The Tabard Society were named as groups the University “strongly encouraged” parents of students to “dissuade your student from” in the letter.

The email incident — which has since been condemned by on-campus sororities, off-campus female organizations, the governor of Pennsylvania and University administration — sheds light on a larger issue of rape culture and sexual violence on campus.

Gutmann said the school puts “an enormous amount of time and energy and resources” into addressing such issues.

“We’ve been doing more and more to educate our community about what needs to be done to prevent sexual assault and harassment, where you can turn, how you can help your peers, how you can create a culture that’s opposed to all forms of sexual harassment and violence,” Gutmann said. “We’ve developed programs, we’ve partnered with student groups.”

Gutmann named the school’s doubling of the number of Penn Anti-Violence Educators as one example of its progress on sexual violence since last year’s AAU report on Penn’s sexual violence climate.

“I’m really proud of these students — they work on bystander intervention training, which is peer to peer,” she said. “They work with multiple student groups, including Greek life groups. We hired new full time staff members, we tripled the size of the sexual violence and prevention office and we created three working groups to focus on particular problems.”

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