After a list of students "known to commit varying levels of gender-based violence" began circulating on campus at the University of Chicago and on the internet, the individuals responsible denied the list was intended to shame rapists specifically. Even so, a sexual assault survivor was targeted by the "UChicago Electronic Army" in apparent retaliation for the list.
Since the list was first reported by Jezebel Monday, students have been actively commenting about it on Facebook groups like Overheard at UChicago and UChicago Open Discourse. Then, early Wednesday morning, the UEA released an email made to look as though it was sent by a UChicago student who has been vocal about issues with the college's handling of sexual assault, but who has no apparent ties to the creation of The Hyde Park List.
The email sent explained that the UEA intended to "keep the Hyde Park community safe from people who publicly accuse other people of committing varying levels of gender-based violence without any proof whatsoever."
"We've decided to commandeer UChicago MODA's web server for the purposes of publishing the Real Hyde Park List, a faithful homage to the original list," they wrote. "The point of our list is a little different, though - its mission is to keep the Hyde Park community safe from people who publicly accuse other people of committing varying levels of gender-based violence."
ModaChicago.com is the website for a college student organization dedicated to fashion. The UEA turned the website over to attack one student specifically, including a photo of them and going as far as to link to their LinkedIn page. By mid-afternoon, MODA's site was down entirely, though it was mirrored on an additional URL that was still accessible.
The UEA isn't a brand new group of vigilantes; last year they hacked into the school's printer network and accessed student information and passwords. But they're still an unknown entity and an apparent admin for a Facebook group for hackers at UChicago has distanced the group from UEA's behavior, stating on their page that hack@uchicago does "not condone or advocate the use of technology for illegal purposes."
Meanwhile, the creators of The Hyde Park List Tumblr wrote in an email Wednesday morning that the Tumblr was originally "taken down for harrassment [sic], then reinstated," as rumored. Additionally, despite the fact that their "About" page states that they are committed to revealing those who have committed "gender-based violence," the group behind The Hyde Park List denies that they intended to create a "rapist list." In a new post on the Tumblr, they wrote:
Sorry we've been unable to reply for a while. We'd like to clarify a few things.
Firstly, this is absolutely not a rape list. We are not accussing the individuals on the list of sexual assault, or even sexual harassment. We are not claiming to be judge, jury, and executioner. The individuals on the list are individuals we would warn our friends about, because of their troubling behavior towards romantic or sexual partners. Usually, this means either a pattern of negative/troubling behavior, or a very significant negative act. Sexual assault can be one of them, but we are not claiming that all the individuals on the list have committed sexual assault.
In terms of specific allegations: we will list them on a google document, hopefully by tonight, but perhaps by the end of the week. If you would like access to it, email us. We will only allow access to those with a uchicago email address, in order to keep the allegations within the community. Our goal is to protect the community, not spread to the general public. If you are on the list and would like to respond, feel free to do so, again, from a uchicago email. We will post your response to the allegations under the allegations themselves.
Code Red and Code Orange do not mean sexual assault and sexual harrasment. They mean exactly what we have said: levels of severity of warning. How much we would warn our friends. They are unrelated to any legal terminology.
Additionally, we would like to point out our motivations. The University has failed to protect the community, sexual assault is historically deeply underreported, and we have failed as a campus to have a real and serious conversation about sexual assault on campus, even after the Title IX investigation. This is worrying, and requires some real soul-searching as a campus. If administration cared about protecting survivors, and not their own reputation, this list would not exist.
They then posted a new entry to the list, bringing the number of names with warnings up to seven. But a few hours later, they wrote:
We are taking a break to reevaluate and figure out a better way to do this. We are still working on it. We will reestablish this when we are ready and will allow all those who emailed us access to the list.
The Tumblr soon disappeared, yet again.
Though an email to MODA asking for comment went unanswered and the student targeted by UEA did not wish to go on the record about the harassment they'd experienced, a University spokesman gave the following statement:
The University has been made aware of several independent websites on which anonymous, unsupported allegations have been made against University students. In each case, the University has contacted the operators of those sites and asked them to remove this content.
The University is committed to sustaining an academic community in which all members can participate freely and fully. Part of that is owning and defending one's ideas. Anonymous accusations and commentary do not live up to those values and undermine full participation. Any threats to personal safety are unacceptable. Depending on the facts of a case, anonymous or unsupported accusations, threats, or damaging commentary made by one student or students against other students could rise to a disciplinary issue.
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