Students and professors targeted by racist, sexually explicit emails

by Wally Joe Cook | 2/13/19 4:00am

1419floatermichaellin2
by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Updated Feb. 13, 2019 at 5:37 p.m.

At least three Dartmouth professors and 18 students, nearly all people of color, have been targeted by a slew of emails that contain sexually explicit descriptions and racial slurs. The emails came from false email addresses and claimed to be from Dartmouth students.

Most of the emails reviewed by the Dartmouth were targeted at people of Asian ethnic descent, though students from many races were targeted. At least two of the recipients of the racist emails have had Asian slurs written on their doors in the past year. An investigation is ongoing, according to chief information security officer Steve Nyman, who declined to comment further.

The Dartmouth viewed over a dozen such emails from four fabricated email accounts, many of which cc’ed multiple students, and which came from either gmx.com accounts or yandex.com accounts. The earliest messages are dated from December.

One email, sent to a student with the subject “Back to work, slave,” read, “Hi [name redacted], Please stop slacking and get back to work, n—.”

Other racist attacks included calling various recipients “Jew lover[s],” “beanur[s]” or “yello.”

The first identified emails were sent to a member of a student dance group on Dec. 9 and 10. Earlier in September, a College staff member had emailed the club about damage to a wall in a practice room the club had used. On Dec. 9, a member of the team, who asked not to be identified due to privacy concerns, received an email referencing the damage.

The email appeared to be from Abdul Agboola ’19, though Agboola told The Dartmouth that he was not the sender.

“No having your period on the f—ing wall! [The College staff member] gonna fight you! Don’t give [name redacted] gonohhrea [sic]!” the email read.

A second email sent to the same student the next day read, “U hear me? Don’t touch the wall! Chi—s! Hi, Don’t touch the wall! [redacted name], that means you! Ms. [redacted name], please please watch her! And make sure [redacted name] dont wank during prax.”

In an interview with The Dartmouth, Agboola said he was shocked when he learned about the emails falsely attributed to him. He added that the perpetrator was aware of specific information about the recipients of the emails, as well as the fact that that he himself is black, which he said made him suspect that a Dartmouth community member composed the emails. 

“How could this happen?” he said. “I hope they get to the bottom of this.”

Another recipient of offensive emails, who also asked not to be named to maintain her privacy, echoed Agboola’s suspicions that a Dartmouth community member may be sending the emails. She said that the perpetrator knew her religious identity, who her friends were, her friends’ nicknames and other students’ preferred names, which are different from their email account names.

“It was really concerning that somebody had the time and the energy and — I don’t know if it’s anger or hatred? — to send these out, and they could be walking amongst us,” she said. “I don’t know what else they would do to people of color or other minorities on campus.”

“It was really concerning that somebody had the time and the energy and — I don’t know if it’s anger or hatred? — to send these out, and they could be walking amongst us.”


She criticized the administration for taking too long to make a statement, considering how many people received similar messages.

The College first publicly acknowledged the messages on Feb. 11 in a campus-wide email from Nyman. 

“A few months ago, an unknown person sent racist email messages to students purporting to be from another student,” Nyman’s email read. “Today we are seeing similar fake messages sent to other students and one faculty member. These messages are NOT originating from Dartmouth's email system and are NOT authored by the student they are claiming to be.”

Gillian Yue ’22, who was a recipient of a racist message, said she forwarded the message to her undergraduate advisor and an Information, Technology and Consulting investigator from the College.

“I was pretty upset seeing the email, especially since it wasn't the first one — two similar emails were sent to me in the guise of another Dartmouth student during winter break,” Yue wrote in an email to The Dartmouth.

Yue added that while she does not feel endangered by the emails, she hopes the school can find the culprit soon.

Another recipient, who received an email on Feb. 8 and who also declined to be identified, said it involved “very intimate personal information” that only one or two people could know. He added that the other people copied on the message were very close to him, including a professor.

Other emails were similarly personal, often including references to recipients’ classmates, Greek organizations or significant others. Multiple emails made accusations of sexual impropriety.

“Hi Sir [name redacted], Congratz on the citation in [professor redacted] class! I saw you starin at [name redacted] melons during class, and the best way to handle this is to talk it out with her. So I've copied her on dis note so that she don't complain of sexual harrassment and get scared of brownskins… naive chi—s can be mean towards indians! I'm lookin out for you as a fellow black brother,” read one email.

One email sent to a professor alleged that a student committed sexual assault.

“Hey [professor redacted], I see you give [name redacted] a citation, but did you account for the touching he did to me at homecoming?” the email read.

Another Dartmouth professor of color received two racially and sexually vulgar emails.

“Me and your white wife will f— in the bushes before having some Skyy Vodka! And we will wear catsuits too!” read one email.

An email with the subject “Brown and yellow secx” targeted a student using explicit sexual language.

“Hi [name redacted], My homie [name redacted] talked to me about how he did you good. Hope you both used a condom! Anyway, was wondering if you, [name redacted], [name redacted], and me can have a 4 way! Just trying to be innovative,” the email read.

Another email sent to a Hispanic student targeted him for his race.

“Hey beanur [name redacted], Get back to work before the wall gets put up!” the email read.

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email statement that the College notified the Hanover police department about the emails and would be speaking with all of those who received emails or are otherwise connected to the incident.

"We find the language contained in the emails abhorrent and antithetical to our community values and standards," Lawrence wrote. "This investigation is a high priority for the college and we continue to pursue the matter actively."

She said that the College urges anyone with information that might help them identify the person or people responsible to reach out, and that any students who received such emails should forward them to help@dartmouth.edu

If you have received similar emails and would like to share your story, please email The Dartmouth at editor@thedartmouth.com. If you have any information about the perpetrators, please contact Safety and Security at (603) 646-6000.

Alexa Green contributed reporting.