The Boston College Police Department launched an immediate investigation when 13 students reported receiving explicity racist, sexist and homophobic e-mail messages on their personal computers in the early morning hours of Oct. 1. University administrators and students gathered in Robsham Theater later that evening to discuss the incident, which was universally condemned.
In a letter to students, faculty and staff on Oct. 7, Vice President for Student Affairs Kevin P. Duffy said, "In addition to utilizing campus technology specialists and Boston College detectives, the University has requested and been offered the assistance of the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office and the Civil Rights Division of the State Attorney General's Office. Boston College Police have also requested the assistance of the computer crime experts from the regional office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Duffy said that the investigation has thus far determined that the messages were sent from a specific workstation in the O'Neill Computer Facility at 11:38 p.m. on Sept. 30. The sender code, he said, had been altered and another student's name appears to have been fraudulently entered. Between 9 p.m. and midnight that evening, some 139 individuals used the OCF, Duffy said, and investigators are working to determine the true identity of the sender.
He asked anyone with information to contact BCPD Lt. Detective Eugene Neault at ext. 2-4743.
Duffy said the person responsible for the messages will be suspended immediately from the University pending internal judicial action. If state law has been violated, he added, the University will pursue prosecution.
"The hateful e-mail that was generated ... was a cowardly attack on each and every member of [the BC] community," Duffy said. "While anger and sadness are an appropriate response, we should not permit this attack to achieve its obvious goal of creating division among us, of impeding progress, and of diverting us from our true purpose - to build a community in which every member is respected and treated justly. In this we will not fail."
The University's response to the incident prompted praise from the Anti-Defamation League, which issued a statement on Oct. 9. "We want to commend Boston College administrators and faculty for organizing a community response," the statement read. "We hope that Boston College students of goodwill will continue not to stand idly by while others in their midst are threatened."
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