The University reacted after hundreds of flyers were posted all over campus on the morning of Sept. 6 featuring an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, emblazoned with the words "THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE," and "WE ARE WATCHING."
The email, addressed to "ladies," asked, “May we have your attention please/We’re looking for the fun ones/And say f**k off to a tease.” Similar emails serving as invitations to the same event, "Wild Wednesday," were sent by variations of the ozyellowbrickroad email account, and have been connected to off-campus organization OZ.
Six protesters continued flyering early Wednesday morning as well. Using a copy of the same email that stirred a campus-wide controversy the day before, the group placed flyers around the Button statue outside of Van Pelt Library and taped more flyers over the LOVE statute.
Director of Media Relations for the University Ron Ozio released a statement Tuesday afternoon.
"The text of the email was offensive and has no place at Penn," the statement said. "As the University has made clear in its policies and protocols, sexual harassment and sexual assault are unacceptable and will not be tolerated on campus. Challenging offensive speech, as these students did, is important and wholly consistent with the University’s ongoing efforts and the national conversation about preventing and responding to sexual misconduct."
Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs in the Office of the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Life Monica Yant Kinney declined to release a statement. She instead pointed to a letter sent to undergraduate parents in December of 2015. The letter, signed by Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, warned parents about off-campus organizations.
"As you discuss social life at Penn, you may hear references to groups called APEs, OZ, THEOS, PHI, The Owl Society, OAX, or The Tabard Society," the letter said. "These off-campus groups are NOT part of the Greek system, but rather, underground, unregistered affiliations without administrative oversight or liability insurance. Students in these private groups have hosted parties resulting in hospitalizations, conduct sanctions, and criminal citations from Penn Police and the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. Please discuss as a family concerns about socializing or affiliating with such a group."
Yant Kinney also pointed to a box on the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life webpage headlined "Don't Fall for the Fakes" that has a similar message.
Apart from the administration, student groups reacted with their own statements. The Interfraternity Council, the governing body for affiliated Penn fraternities, reached out to The Daily Pennsylvanian with a statement on Tuesday.
Interfraternity Council President and Wharton senior David Moore said “the group seemingly indicated by the email address (OZ) is in no capacity affiliated with the IFC or the Penn Greek system.”
He went on to add that the Greek community and governing organizations “strongly condemn the words and sentiments of the email in question.”
OZ members could not be reached for comment as of Tuesday night.
“Moreover, we wish to take an unequivocal stance regarding rape culture and campus sexual assault,” Moore wrote. “We categorically denounce the behavior this email so brazenly perpetuates. Sexual objectification, nonconsensual contact, and harassment in any form are not tolerated by the IFC. We will not remain complacent; the Greek community will stand together to combat any culture of passivity and normalization of these actions.”
Penn Democrats posted on their Facebook page Tuesday evening, writing, "Penn Democrats, alongside many organizations on campus, is dedicated to activism and programming aimed at combatting [sic] rape culture. We condemn any and all activity that promotes this kind of behavior and stand in solidarity with Penn’s protesters and activist communities."
They followed up with a list of campus resources for survivors of sexual assault.
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