By Joseph Beyda
In emails to members of the Stanford community late last week, Provost John Etchemendy ‘82 and Kappa Sigma resident assistant Hunter Kodama ‘14 condemned the messages sent by Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel ‘12 while he was a member of the fraternity at Stanford.
“The sentiments expressed in these emails do not reflect what we, as members of the Stanford community, expect of one another,” Etchemendy wrote. “We can choose to turn a blind eye to such statements and chalk them up to youthful indiscretion. Or we can be more courageous, and affirmatively reject such behavior whenever and wherever we see it, even — no, especially — if it comes from a friend, a classmate, or a colleague. Only if we choose the latter will we create the kind of university culture we all can be proud of, all of the time.”
Spiegel’s emails from 2009 and 2010, released last Wednesday by Gawker’s Valleywag blog, demeaned members of campus sororities and, in one instance, former Dean of Freshmen Julie Lythcott-Haims ‘89. The messages described getting women drunk and performing sexual acts.
Spiegel has since apologized for the messages in a statement from Snapchat, saying that he has “no excuse” for the emails.
“They in no way reflect who I am today or my views towards women,” the statement read.
Kappa Sigma lost its on-campus house for the 2011-12 academic year, stemming from a 2010 party suspension and an alcohol culture that Dean of Residential Education Deborah Golder called “dangerous” at the time. The fraternity was allowed to move back in for the 2012 fall quarter.
“The more concerning things in those emails…are representative of a culture that we as an organization have left behind us,” Kodoma wrote to campus sororities on Thursday. “That very culture was one of the biggest factors in the University’s decision to revoke our house three years ago, and the reversal of that culture is one of the reasons we were fortunate enough to have it reinstated a year later. But infinitely more important to everyone in our house than a ruling by the University, we hope that you’ve all personally observed a positive culture in our house and in your interactions with our members.”
Though Etchemendy wrote on Friday that the Stanford community is ashamed of Spiegel’s emails, he also said that students should see the incident as a learning experience.
“Members of our community should learn now, not many years from now, how abhorrent those attitudes are, whether real or feigned,” Etchemendy said.
Contact Joseph Beyda at jbeyda ‘at’ Stanford ‘dot’ edu.