Things That Matter

Black Harvard Law Students Are Saying That They Are In Fear Of Their Lives After Menacing Racist Emails Were Sent To Them

This past spring the world of academia proved just how little it cares for minority and disadvantaged students when it was revealed that various colleges and universities across the country were involved in a millions of dollars bribing scheme. In short, the scheme gave affluent students “back door” access to elite schools and proved just how important programs like affirmative action are for minority students. Of course, few were surprised when news broke that these students had paid their way into some of the country’s top schools. In fact, for many, it proved once again, that in a lot of ways money really buy you everything even a Harvard degree. Now, a new report from Buzzfeed News is reminding us once again, how little academic centers advocate for its students of color.  

In a new report by the news outlet, four first-year Harvard Law School students complained they have been targeted by racist and sexist emails and text messages from another student. They’re accusing Harvard Law School of not doing enough to deal with the verbal threats and harassment. 

The students are accusing Harvard Law School of upholding racist and sexist views by not doing anything to support them.

According to BuzzfeedNews, the students emailed the dean of the law school, describing the messages as containing “racist taunts about affirmative action and intelligence” and “body-shaming.” 

The email’s and text messages contained “other personal insults.” The emails and text messages were sent from an anonymous source to black and woman students during their first-year between December 2018 and March 2019. 

BuzzFeed News reports that of the 80 students in the section, nine are black and 21 are “other minorities.” The first student that began receiving threatening text messages was one of the black students, Mo Light. The message Light received came from “impeachmo@gmail.com” and the sender stated that the student didn’t “belong here.” 

“You’re just here because of affirmative action, why even try?,” the sender wrote. “Everyone at [Harvard Law School] thinks you’re a joke, but I guess your section is lucky to have a curve boost.” 

(Photo credit: Mo Light, via BuzzFeed News) 

Immediately, Light took action and told a faculty member about the email he had received. He also tells BuzzFeed that he filed a police report with the Harvard University Police Department. 

“My initial reaction, ‘Wow, this is upsetting,’ but it’s not surprising, given that this is just living while black,'” Light told BuzzFeed News. Despite reaching out to faculty and the university police department, the messages would continue and now to other students of their class. 

Chris Volcy, one of the students who was also targeted, told BuzzFeed News the messages made her feel unsafe and uncomfortable going to class. “It was all we could think about… all we could talk about, all we were focusing on, instead of our schoolwork,” said Volcy. 

Another student, Chelsea Rooney, told the publication that the messages deeply disturbed her and she decided to report them to the administration. “In the era of school shootings, in this era of white supremacy, really and the violence and anger that goes along with that, I think it was our duty as students to bring this forward.”

(Photo credit: Chris Volcy via BuzzFeed News) 

“It would have been really irresponsible for us to receive these messages, know that someone is exhibiting really bizarre behavior, and not say anything,” the student said. 

The black students who were targeted said they felt the attacks were racist while the other two women students believed they were targeted due to other personal issues with the supposed sender. They also told BuzzFeed News that they had an idea of who the suspected sender was. 

Ultimately, the students believe the reports were ignored and their concerns weren’t addressed. 

Now, they’re accusing Harvard Law of not doing enough to support them.

In a statement from Harvard Law School to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the school said that none of the messages the students received “threaten[ed] any type of violence.” The spokesperson also said they couldn’t “publicly disclose” the details of the investigation in order to “protect the respective rights of all parties.” 

However, we can’t help but wonder, where was this “respect” when the worried students reached out to school administration addressing their concerns?

The other students who received abusive, sexist and racist text messages were told to “no one likes you gtfo.” Chelsea Rooney was also called a “horse face from Texas” by the anonymous sender. Another woman student, who asked to remain anonymous, was called a “fat overweight pig.”

One would think that given the political climate in the country, Harvard Law School would act appropriately and try harder to find the culprit. Given the institutions elite status, one would also think that after the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal, universities and colleges across the country would think twice before letting something like this escalate.

Twitter users also rallied behind the students who are accusing another student of targetting them with racist and sexist emails and text messages.

One woman said Harvard Law school must “identify and excise” the person that’s responsible for harassing the students. 

Another Twitter user called Harvard Law School a “scam” and “shameful.”

“They do not support or protect their students of color or their women students,” the Twitter user said.

A Harvard Law School student also chimed in and said that when “elite institutions permit racist and sexist abuse their students” and don’t do anything about it, it speaks volumes.

“It endorses the racists’ message: You don’t belong here,” he writes. 

The law student also urged other Twitter users to sign the students’ petition to Harvard Law School, demanding a serious response to this racism and sexism.

“The school’s response was disheartening, but your action and emails helped us get our first response from the school.  We cannot thank you enough,” Chris Volcy, Chelsea Rooney, and Mo Light write in the petition. “But trust us when we say that there is evidence to make a determination on the identity of the sender, and we want to see why the school decided to let us attend classes with an individual capable of sending the attached messages from anonymous emails and unknown phone numbers. If you think that the school should at least release the investigation report to the members of Section 7 so that we can understand their decision, please sign this petition.” 

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