Hundreds of flyers featuring an email sent by an account firstname.lastname@example.org were posted across campus on Tuesday morning, stamped with “THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE” and “WE ARE WATCHING.”
The flyers included part of an Aug. 31 email sent to an undisclosed list of recipients. It had the subject line “Wild Wednesday” and included a poem addressed to “ladies,” which read in part, “May we have your attention please/We’re looking for the fun ones/And say f**k off to a tease.” Similar emails with poems and references to "Wild Wednesday" have been sent in previous years to freshman girls from almost identical email accounts, with variations on the number at the end. Those accounts had been connected to off-campus organization OZ.
The email continued, “Wednesday nights will get you going/With bankers flowing all night/Tonight is your first showing/So please wear something tight.”
College junior Amanda Silberling, one of the group of students who printed and distributed flyers early Tuesday morning, said she was outraged by what she called the sexist nature of the email, which was allegedly addressed to freshman women.
“We want freshman girls to see the signs we put up and know they don’t have to give into the culture they’re thrown into,” she said.
Silberling was tipped off to the email by a freshman who received it, and shared it on Monday with some of her female friends in a Facebook chat. Over 10 of the people in the chat joined her in printing more than 600 copies of the email and flyering them around campus, she said.
They covered the LOVE statue outside Claudia Cohen Hall with flyers and posted them across the 38th Street Bridge and around the Compass on Locust Walk, among other places.
Originally, the group thought about "trolling" the email account, but instead decided "to let the rest of campus know what they’ve done and shame them for it,” said Hannah, a College senior who asked to only be identified by her first name. “We’re just trying to keep somebody safe, because no one did it for us.”
Hannah said the email participates in a culture of coercing women to have sex.
“We recognized that it was targeting freshman girls at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives,” she said.
In an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Interfraternity Council President and Wharton senior David Moore noted that the organization distributing the emails was completely unaffiliated with the University and IFC, adding that "the IFC does not condone rape culture or any kind of peer pressure."
The University also released a statement Tuesday, saying, "The text of the email was offensive and has no place at Penn. 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."
Further motivating the group of protesters were the results from the 2015 American Association of Universities survey, in which close to one-third of female respondents at Penn said they had been sexually assaulted, and the public reaction to Brock Turner’s six-month jail sentence after being convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault.
“It’s rare for me to have a female friend who has not been sexually harassed or assaulted during their time at Penn,” Hannah said.
This story was last updated at 4:41 p.m. Sept. 6. Check back for updates.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.