A slideshow created by several members of OAX, an off-campus social group, mocking the appearances of members of an identified off-campus organization was shared accidentally in two GroupMes on Wednesday, prompting the sorority to condemn the slideshow.
The slideshow was not affiliated with, or sanctioned by OAX, College junior and OAX Standards Chair Cecelia Vieira, who is a former copy staffer for The Daily Pennsylvanian, said. She added that she and other members of OAX’s executive board found out about the slideshow at the same time others did, when it was shared in the GroupMes.
College first year Whitney Clarfield, a member of OAX, shared the slideshow in a GroupMe with members of both the Class of 2023 and the Class of 2024, as well as a GroupMe for just the Class of 2024, on Wednesday evening. In both cases, Clarfield meant to send a link to a Google Form for OAX's Valentine's Day candy grams and, after realizing she sent the wrong link, sent the correct link immediately after. She apologized the following evening for sending the slideshow.
The slideshow featured 16 first years in the identified off-campus organization APES. Each slide featured a picture of the boy, a number indicating how many shots it would take the creators of the slideshow to hook up with him, and a list of mostly denigrating comments about his appearance.
After posting the link to the slideshow, Clarfield wrote in the GroupMe that her friends had sent her the slideshow after seeing it on Reddit, meaning to imply that she did not make it.
On Thursday night, Clarfield apologized in the Class of 2024 GroupMe both for sending the slideshow and for her immediate response.
"It was a cruel and terrible thing that was never meant to be shared, and should never have been made in the first place," she wrote.
Clarfield declined to comment to the DP, and the 16 students rated in the slideshow all either declined to comment or did not respond to a request for comment.
Penn's Office of Student Conduct did not respond to a request for comment on whether it is aware of the slideshow and if it is investigating it.
“It's absolutely disgusting, and the contents of the PowerPoint are horrible,” College junior and OAX President Jojo Cotto said. “We do not support or condone this type of behavior.”
Vieira said that a “pretty small group” of members of the pledge class created the slideshow for a PowerPoint night that was not affiliated with OAX, but she added that she was not yet sure of the exact number of girls involved. Both Vieira and Cotto said that, while they do not know what discipline will look like yet, OAX plans to take action after they investigate the matter and find out who was involved and the capacity in which they were involved. Cotto confirmed on Feb. 5, however, that Clarfield was not involved in making the slideshow, adding that the investigation is still ongoing.
As of Thursday evening, OAX disabled its chapter's Instagram account, which Cotto said was a temporary decision designed to protect its members from harassment.
“We will be doing everything in our power to take disciplinary action against this,” Cotto said. “This is something that we take very seriously.”
College first year Olivia Szewczyk, a member of both GroupMes, said Clarfield made the slideshow private before she could open it, but she saw screenshots of the slideshow from a friend. She said the slideshow was “really messed up.”
Szewczyk said that, even though the slideshow was likely not intended for the GroupMes to see, she was shocked by how cruel it was.
“That was very deliberately trying to be mean and throw shots at people,” she said. “I just feel really bad for everybody involved on the victim end of it.”
Engineering first year Venkatesh Shenoy said he was disgusted by the slideshow and the initial response to it in the Class of 2024 GroupMe. Rather than condemning the slideshow, Shenoy said many of his classmates' initial responses were to laugh or make jokes about the slideshow.
"It's just really sad to see that type of culture," Shenoy said.
Szewczyk and Shenoy both said that the girls involved should make a public apology for the slideshow.
“This isn't something that you can just let phase out,” she said. “You have to take ownership and responsibility.”