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Stanford Report, June 2, 1999

Letter from Gerhard Casper to Stanford community regarding racist email

Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend a racist and otherwise highly offensive e-mail was sent to Stanford addresses attacking Stanford students identified by appalling epithets, the Stanford administration and, indeed, the entire university. The e-mail purported to come from a Stanford graduate student.

As I write this we have not identified the author and I urge the Stanford community not to jump to conclusions. In the world of information technology it is very easy to mislead about identities. The Stanford police at present do not believe that the alleged source is the author and the computer security specialist has concluded that the message was not posted from his account.

We have identified the server that was used and have closed it down. If our investigation generates further information that can be communicated, I, the Provost or a person on our staff will tell the campus in a timely fashion.

Vice-Provost James Montoya and Dean of Students Marc Wais and others from Student Affairs will be available on Sunday evening at 7 o'clock in Tresidder Oak Room to meet with members of the Stanford community, especially those that were the target of the e-mail.

I should like to make three additional comments.

(1) It goes without saying that the views expressed by the individual who sent the message are highly deplorable, personally offensive to me, and, I trust, will be rejected by the entire community.

(2) When and if the perpetrator of this unsolicited mail is identified, we shall use all the means available to us to take appropriate action. University policies concerning computer and network use are well articulated.

(3) In the world of information technology an aberrant individual can use a tool like this to create trouble. As an academic community we need to be particularly careful before generalizing from an incident like this. In my many contacts with students, it has been one of my greatest satisfactions to know how good and respectful relations are in this very diverse community.

Gerhard Casper