Sexually Explicit Letter Sent Over W&M Fraternity Listserv

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william and maryA recent email with an explicit sexual message sent over a William & Mary fraternity’s listserv that calls women the “lesser sex” went viral this week, sparking a response from College President Taylor Reveley, campus organizations, The Huffington Post and the president of the fraternity.

The letter, called “Save the Sluts,” was sent by an undisclosed member of the Sigma Chi fraternity to his fraternity brothers. The letter uses explicit language to describe how women on campus are in dire need of sex, encouraging Sigma Chi members to take notice when they pass a woman “in need.”

“Now stop. Take it all in, breath deep, imagine what kind of underwear she’s wearing, even entertain the idea she may not be wearing any at all, but stare as long as you please, they don’t mind,” one of the excerpts from the email says.

The email continues, using several expletives and references to women W&M Spokesperson Brian Whitson called “reprehensible” in an email to WYDaily.

The Sigma Chi letter went viral on social media and the blogosphere. Huffington Post picked it up and soon it reached Reveley, who rebuked the message in a statement issued Wednesday.

“It’s flatly unacceptable. We put a lot of emphasis on building community at William & Mary, and a crucial element of community is respect for one another. This email makes clear we have more work to do. This serious lapse in community will serve as a teachable moment to that end,” Reveley said.

Whitson said the teachable moment would involve a conversation with the individual responsible for the letter to educate him on how one person’s actions can affect an entire community. The college will also be letting him know, Whitson said, the email was unacceptable behavior.

The fraternity’s president, Charlie Engh, published a response to the email, saying “we deeply regret the message” and the letter was inconsistent with the values of the fraternity.

“We have moved to suspend the individual who was responsible for the message and International Fraternity leaders are taking action to ensure proper disciplinary measures are taken,” Engh said in a statement on the fraternity’s website.

Following the letter, Sigma Chi canceled all fraternity events to conduct an internal review of its members to ensure current members were only “men of the highest character,” the statement read.

The college is unable to take any disciplinary action against the individual, citing his First Amendment rights.

“As vile as the content was, it doesn’t violate a disciplinary rule,” Whitson said in an email.

In the wake of the email, many college offices and campus groups are banding together to take preventive action. The Office of Student Affairs — including the dean of students’ office, Health Promotion, Residence Life, Student Leadership Development, Center for Student Diversity and the vice president’s office — is looking at its programming to spread broader awareness of personal safety, respect and sense of community. Health Outreach Peer Educators, Gray Matters, W&M Stands with Survivors, the PanHellenic Council and the InterFraternity Council, all student organizations, are also involved in the effort.

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Comments

14 COMMENTS

  1. this letter is just a symptom of the problem. The fraternities are having parties, getting girls drunk, and then the boys are doing what boys do…and obviously they think this is ok, fun, and expected. That’s what the letter tells us.
    The letter is gross but it is not the problem. The problem is what goes on at those frat parties. It needs to stop.

  2. The letter is just a symptom of the larger problem and that is the sexual violence that is being perpetrated on the campus and specifically at fraternities. Make no mistake–it is happening.

    The writer should be suspended and all fraternities should be investigated immediately. Not doing so puts the University in a position of ignoring a serious problem and possibly culpable in the same way Penn State is because they overlooked evidence that Sandusky was committing terrible sexual crimes.

    What is WandM worried about–a lawsuit from the poor writer on his “first amendment rights”, bad publicity? They should be more worried about putting more innocents in harms way. They will pay much more in bad publicity and liability later.

  3. The entire letter is available to be read at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/college. It is totally disgusting. The student should be expelled from Wm and Mary. If you choose to read the letter, scroll down to read the comments being made. It gives you an incite to the youth of today, both good and bad.

  4. Jack, your age is showing, in that the world of cyber anything didn’t exist when you were young. It’s a different world, man, a very different world. This young man’s words will haunt him forever in the electronic age-forever. At some point, his name will be out there, and future employers, partners, spouses, whatever, will see them, too. A few quick minutes spent typing those words may very well have ruined him, at least for a time. Hopefully he grows from the experience. And, on another note, if I were his mom, I would be so deeply ashamed and disappointed. By the way, it is “you’re”, not “your”.

  5. No offense, Margaret, but you really have no idea what the College is doing at this point to address the issue. I do, and it moved very, very quickly (within a matter of a few hours of finding out about the email) to form various committees, etc., among other things. Things are happening.

  6. Free speech exists to protect ones right to live and prosper without harm inflicted to one self or others. To propose that this sort of despicable vile spew is somehow akin to free speech is absurd, pathetic and symptomatic of the ignorance diminishing the very quality of freedom that those so emphatically refer to when taken to task for this sort of stupidity. Yes comedians and performers alike are apt to be offensive but the pretense is there for all to see unless you are an idiot-it is comedy! This was done on a network governed by an institution and monitored by a set of rules and code of conduct.

  7. Vulgar it is. However, things like this and much worse have been said for 50+ years in person and in letters. It will not change and will (unfortunately) continue. Stop hiding under a rock and pretending to be shocked.

  8. It is bad in any context, and it shouldn’t happen. There is freedom of speech, yes, but there should also be common sense. Stupid is all that comes to mind.

    i appreciate the outrage at this, wish people were equally offended by Bill Maher being specific to his attacks on republican women, and Ed Shultz, and Martin Bashir, and so many others. I guess it was purely comedy in those offenses, and this feeble attempt at comedy is offensive. I sure wish women would be consistent with what is and isn’t offensive.

  9. A reminder that the first amendment protects you from government punishment ie the United States Federal Government and the Commonwealth government cannot prosecute and send him to jail. However William and Mary may be a public institution but that doesn’t mean they have to protect any speech. Even the 1st Amendment has limits like not yelling fire in a crowded room and yes you will go to jail for that. There is no right to going around saying whatever you want without consequences especially when such language encourages violence. As someone in another forum pointed out if he had said these words about a racial or ethnic group, there would be punishment. His language promotes violence and rape culture. He needs punishment. It is a deep irony that the fraternity is more concerned and taking more action than the College.

  10. Words do hurt… period. I wonder if you would like it if it were your daughter who this man was encouraging others to view as nothing other then a sexual object. Tasteless, offensive ,degrading and disgusting is what this letter portrayed towards women.

  11. Thank you Jack, I wrote a paragraph reply but have decided the Administration concerned would never understand common sense. Liberal thinking in a nut shell, what a horrible thing.

  12. who cares, really, guys should be able to send guys emails and say what they want. it is America, freedom of speech ring a bell? AND girls should be able to do the same about guys. Words shouldn’t hurt and if your hurt by them, grow up! I’m 50, and we used to say sticks and stones will hurt my bones but words will never hurt me. Maybe the kids today should remember that. I always felt that if someone called me names , THEY were the problem, not me.

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