LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the expulsion of some American University students after several distressing digital conversations were leaked online earlier this week.
The correspondences in question reference hazing, rape and assault, and contain homophobic and misogynistic language. They were allegedly sent and received by members of a fraternity that is not officially recognized by the school.
University president Neil Kerwin acknowledged the emails Monday in a letter posted on the university’s website.
“Members of our campus community have been alerted through anonymous emails to student conduct allegations that demand the university’s immediate attention,” he wrote.
“The allegations include high risk and harmful behaviors that not only conflict with our values and standards, but also may represent breaches of our student conduct code and of the law… I assure you that the university is taking the information contained in the emails very seriously. We are taking swift and deliberate action to investigate every one of the alleged behaviors and will apply our student conduct code to its fullest extent.”
Redacted versions of email and text conversations were posted to a Tumblr blog, but the creators of that page say they and many other individuals at American were emailed the documents from an anonymous address.
The blog creators claim the digital conversations were between members of Epsilon Iota, a group that lost its charter in 2001.
The creators of the blog write that the messages “expose the homophobic, racist, and misogynistic tendencies” of those involved and were posted “to promote the safety of AU students and speed up the disciplinary process.”
The petition creators have made several demands, including:
- Clarification of who in University administration is involved in the investigation, and also a mechanism by which the University will update us on the investigation. We would like complete transparency regarding the progression of any investigation.
- Interim suspension of all persons involved in the email thread /suspected criminals pending their investigation.
- An official statement from the University saying that involvement in EI will be treated as gang activity, and that any incidents of student involvement in EI will be treated as such. Furthermore, disciplinary action for any student wearing EI letters on campus should be taken.
- Expulsion of all EI members that have discussed being present, or condoning sexual violence, assault, battery, slander and all other actions relevant to physical, sexual, emotional and all other forms of abuse.
- Employment of a full-time Survivors Advocate and additional administrative positions which would be specialized in dealing with cases of sexual violence to support victims of sexual and gendered violence.
- Mandatory sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention training at Eagle Summit.
- More comprehensive, mandatory, sexual assault prevention/bystander training for all of social and professional Greek life on a semesterly basis.
- Mandatory sexual assault education for club executive board members
Kerwin’s letter says investigating officials will be as transparent as possible, but will not “jeopardize due process and the rights of individual privacy.”