By Elizabeth Held
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving break, members of the SGA Executive Board received an e-mail from Katie Chanpong, the President of Wellesley College Government, asking for a letter of support in light of recent events on their campus.
What events lead to this unusual call for support?
On Saturday, November 21, Jeremy Pham, a Dartmouth junior currently studying at Wellesley as part of their 12-college exchange program, sent out an e-mail to the entire Wellesley community.
The e-mail was in response to a post on the popular website FMyLife, which read “I’m the only guy on a campus of 2300 girls but I’m still not getting any. FML.” Pham insisted he was not the one who submitted that to the site and that someone was impersonating him.
Throughout his e-mail, Pham referred to Wellesley students as “whores” and complained about their “sense of entitlement.”
A few quotes from the e-mail include:
“You are all a bunch of whores. No, seriously. The stereotype that Wellesley girls obsess over men is so true that it’s not even funny.”
“You are all too easy. Some of us refuse to participate in the orgy of sexual tension here because we want to be respected for who we are, not what we are. Of course, for others, it’s as easy as dropping the MIT/Harvard moniker. I mean, what idiot thinks a meaningful relationship can develop out of a superficial encounter at a party?”
“You are all undeserving of the education and opportunities you have received. The sense of entitlement here is actually kind of incredible.”
In the hours following, Pham sent out an apology e-mail to the community. However, shortly after that, he posted a Facebook status update saying, “While the whole community is out protesting and acting all butthurt, i’m jst sitting around lol’ing. You fuck with me, and I’ll plant a dagger in you ass. simple as that.”
Pham sent out an additional e-mail on Sunday November 22, arguing that he made his comments “so that you may all be united under the banner of activism.”
Pham also wrote, “While I was writing the apparently insufficient apology last night, the police officer came into my room to make sure that everything was okay. I chuckled and told him that everything was okay. He wanted to offer me protection from the perhaps inevitable fallout from my polemic.”
James Merriam HC ’11, the sole male student residing at Bryn Mawr, commented on Pham’s actions.
“He’s everything I’m trying hard not to be,” he stated.
Merriam then went on to describe the story that appeared about him in the Philadelphia Inquirer last year and the jokes Jay Leno made about his decision to live at Bryn Mawr, comparing this to the stories about Pham on various feminist websites.
“I’m really glad it’s press of this kind [Leno],” Merriam said.
Pham was taken to Wellesley College Honor Code Council by multiple students as a result of his e-mails.
One of these students, Claire Fogarty ’12, explained why in an e-mail interview.
“The Wellesley College Honor Code is very important here; it’s the foundation of all things that make Wellesley awesome. The Honor Code states: ‘As a Wellesley College student, I will act with honesty, integrity, and respect. In making this commitment, I am accountable to the community and dedicate myself to a life of honor.’ I feel that Jeremy Pham clearly violated the Honor Code in his aggressively misogynistic e-mails to the entire Wellesley College community–he did not act with honesty or integrity, and especially not respect…I had to let the administration know how I feel!”
Because the Wellesley Honor Code Council is a subgroup of the College Government, the College Government was unable to make a comment. They did, however, make the decision to contact the leaders of the other Seven Sisters governments.
Katie Chanpong, the President of Wellesley College Government, wrote in an e-mail, “I would like to ask you all as fellow women’s colleges and collectively as the Seven Sisters’ consortium to issue a joint- statement to the Wellesley College community about the incident…a statement of support from the Seven Sisters consortium would be an outstanding act of solidarity among the Seven Sisters.”
The Exec Board chose to respond with a letter encouraging dialogue among college constituencies.
The statement reads, “At Bryn Mawr, we have found that a situation such as this is resolved more smoothly when everyone enters the dialogue with an open mind and calmly considers the situation before reacting in anger.”
Vice President Sophie Papavizas ’11 explained that the Exec Board specifically avoided making a judgment in their letter.
“That wasn’t the most important thing we could do,” she stated. She referenced past events at Bryn Mawr when open dialogue was beneficial.
Fogarty said in her e-mail, “We all really appreciate the support of our fellow 7 Sisters at this time–in particular, Bryn Mawr and Mount Holyoke have had wonderful responses that made us feel a lot better in the midst of this misogynistic firestorm!”
The Wellesley College Honor Code Council has yet to release a decision on Pham’s case.