The fake Interim President responds

This article was revised on 2/4/2013.

The author of a fabricated email posing as Interim President Joanne Creighton and announcing changes to the College’s financial aid policy for undocumented students has reached out to senior staff and Honor Council — but not to apologize.

“I don’t think my email was fraud – it created an alternative reality that was more just. It was a representation of the world as it should be,” said Edward Menefee ’15, a current sophomore on leave, reacting to a campus-wide email response from senior staff which called his email an act of fraud and “a gross violation of the honor code” which “threatens to discredit what is otherwise a meaningful and important discussion.”

While he doesn’t think his actions are a violation of the Honor Code, Menefee said Wednesday’s article was the first he had heard of any reaction from the administration. He said that he contacted senior staff and the Honor Council with the intent of answering “any questions and concerns.”

Dean of the College Martha Denney says it was not until Thursday Jan. 30 that senior staff had any correspondence with Menefee. “Ed did not reach out to anyone in the administration; he responded to my e-mail of January 30 asking if he had sent the fraudulent message,” she wrote in an email.

Menefee details his intentions in a letter to the community, which is posted at the bottom of this article. The full text of senior staff’s response can also be found below.

Menefee, who is the co-founder of SUDDENmovement.org, a Tri-College group advocating for “just and equal” admissions policies for undocumented students at private colleges, doesn’t think the email was deceptive or harmful to the community.

“I wanted to raise the issue – because Haverford’s strategy has been to be silent, for a year,” said Menefee. He’s disappointed by the lack of action since students passed a resolution at the Spring 2012 Plenary. “The community can’t separate itself from this issue. We can’t be comfortable with injustice. And maybe it would help the Haverford community move forward on this if they got a good look at what the world should be – would look like.”

For him, the core of the issue is unequal admissions standards for undocumented students. Currently, there are three slots for international students to receive aid from the College. Menefee argues that the way aid is distributed makes standards for admission unequal – undocumented students, who must apply as international students, are competing for just 1 out of 3 spots for admission to Haverford, where the average student is competing for 1 out of 800, he says.

Menefee’s email has received mixed reactions. Many students were excited by the fabricated announcement and disappointed when they learned it was a hoax, with some worried it would damage ongoing efforts to change admissions policy. For the most part, it has managed to make the issue – if not simply its controversial mode of distribution – a hot topic of conversation.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said that Menefee contacted senior staff prior to their email response to the Haverford community. Dean of the College Martha Denney says she was first to reach out on January 3o, through an email.

Senior staff’s response, dated Thurs. Jan 31 1:49PM:

Dear Members of the Haverford Community:

As you may know, someone impersonating President Creighton went to great lengths in an attempt to deceive this community into believing that the College would be making significant financial aid policy changes relating to undocumented students living in the U.S.  The message was sent from a gmail account designed to look like one that belongs to the president, and was addressed to our email list servers in a further effort to make it appear legitimate.  Though the message did not get approved by our list moderators, those of you who received it may have deduced that a separate, bcc list (compiled by the sender) was used as a backup method of delivery.

This deception required deliberation, planning and forethought.  This was not a musing sent by accident; it was not a poorly-considered April Fool’s joke; it was not a private message gone viral. There is no other way to describe this other than as an act of fraud. The idea of impersonating the identity of the president as a way of ‘contributing’ to the betterment of this community is deeply misguided—a gross violation of the honor code. 

This act of fraud also threatens to discredit what is otherwise a meaningful and important discussion. But rest assured, this attempt to influence a dialogue will not taint our interest in the underlying issue which has been supported by students in a recent Plenary resolution and is the subject of conversations with the senior administration, the Faculty and Student Admission Committee, and among the Board of Managers.  

Kim Benston, Provost

Mike Casel, Associate Vice President of Finance and Director of Investments
Joanne Creighton, President

Martha Denney, Dean of the College

Michael Kiefer, Vice President for Advancement

Jess Lord, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

Jesse Lytle, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Managers

Chris Mills ’82, Assistant Vice President for College Communications

Joe Spadaro, Chief Information Officer

Dick Wynn, Vice President for Finance and Administration

Menefee’s full letter to the community is pasted below. The Clerk has not independently verified any of the content or claims made in this letter. 

“A Letter to the Haverford Community From the Fake Interim President”

On Monday, The World As It Is and The World As It Should Be met for a brief second and said hello. They took a good look at each other and the World As It Should Be said, “It pains me to look at you- so ugly, hateful, and unfair you are. Why don’t you accept me? Let’s be one in the same.” But The World As It Is decided this was not to be and yelled out, “You are a fraud! How dare you show yourself?! I am The World As It Is, and we are indefinitely separate and different!”

Many in the Haverford community have told me that they were thrilled when they read the email, “Official Apology to the Undocumented American Community” that appeared to come from the Interim President. Many felt that the implementation of admissions equality, which had been anticipated for a year, was long overdue.  One Professor responded saying the announcement had renewed his sense of pride in the spirit and mission of Haverford.  Others agreed with the announcement that Haverford’s history is “truly shameful” and said it was about time that Haverford stops acting like a country club in the Deep South.  Jose, a current undocumented applicant to Haverford, read the email which included a personally apology to him and was overcome by a sensation- a mix of relief, hope, and vindication that he had never felt before.

Unfortunately, the Interim President effectively retracted her apology by siding with the World As It Is. Many administrators and students echoed “Fraud! Lie!” and said that the email had been a breach of trust with the community. One student said she had been harmed because she felt lied to on an issue she cares about. Words like “inappropriate” and “unjustified” were used to express judgment on the obtrusiveness of the unsolicited email or the impersonation of the Interim President.  Others expressed that the email was embarrassing and harmful to Haverford and made them feel uncomfortable.

I, Edward Menefee (Sophomore on leave, BMC Sociology major) have reached out to administrators and the Honor Council and claimed full responsibility for the email. I have nothing to hide and will answer any questions or concerns they have as I cooperate fully with their proceedings.  I will meet with any administrators or students who felt harmed or uncomfortable by the email (you can contact me at edward.menefee11@gmail.com). In general I can say that the email was not intended to deceive or harm anyone, and that I don’t think it did either one. I was surprised and disappointed to see the Senior Staff jump to judgment without having heard my side of what happened. I found it very unhaverfordian.  Only the Honor Council can decide if it violated the Honor Code, and I trust that they will do a good job.  If Haverford decides to separate me from the community because of this then it is not the community, I thought it was and I no longer wish to be part of it.

Jess Lord and I have met and discussed the admissions policy numerous times for over a year and a half.  He has told me that he has never disputed that the admissions process is separate and unequal and that there are no longer any financial concerns with extending fair, need-blind admissions to undocumented applicants.  He has no financial concerns because he knows that giving undocumented admits the same financial aid package that a high need documented applicant would receive would keep HC’s costs the same.  Any concerns about legality are and always have been bogus- thousands of undocumented students go to public and private colleges every year and in every state- and any talk of lingering concerns about financial costs are admittedly insincere.

Morally, the question has always been decided.  While I doubt my email violated the Honor Code, I have no doubt that Haverford’s policy, which effectively bans undocumented students, and continued inaction are unjust and violate the very core of the Honor Code and the Haverfordian spirit.  Moreover, the ban is harmful- its hurts people. Haverford maintains a structure of violence that inflicts pain, hardships, and limited outcomes on people like Jose and many others whose homes, families, lives, coursework, and futures are in this country.  Usually their stories and their suffering remain silent. On most days at Haverford, the structural violence remains invisible and goes unnoticed as documented students go to class and documented administrators retire to their warm homes at five.

I have told Jess Lord that silence, inaction, and invisibility will not continue.  I have told him that if Haverford is proud of its policy then it should promote it, if it is ashamed of its policy then it should change it, but it will no longer be able to hide it.

Far from a lie, I think the announcement was honest. Sure it was fantasy or theater, but fantasy can contain a lot of truths; whereas silence is part of Haverford’s structural violence.  Silence is not a naturally occurring, neutral, passive emptiness. It is an actively created existence that oppresses people and hides uncomfortable truths like the fact that we’re all the same yet some people are being hurt.  Moreover, silence is a lie itself. It is not an honest look at the World As It Is because for many of the privileged it falsely conveys a sense normalcy and adequacy of the status quo.  Yet we who are privileged to be documented Americans and have been admitted to Haverford cannot separate ourselves from Haverford’s policy and the violence being inflicted on Jose and his community.

Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.” –Ginetta Sagan

Haverford’s pattern of actions- and indeed, strategy- has always been to be silent on this issue. Haverford’s historic plenary vote was featured on the front page of the USA Today but was not mentioned on Haverford’s website or publications.  On the rare occasion, an administrator has mentioned in an email or an interview a sentence of two saying, “We’re looking at it. We have financial concerns.” I’ve met with Jess Lord and Joanne Creighton and both have told me that they do not know any undocumented person and do not know of any possibility for an undocumented voice to help inform Haverford’s decision. Neither of them would agree to testify as part of a Haverford Truth & Reconciliation Committee (HTRC) that would also accept testimony from undocumented Tri-co and high school students.  Despite that they’ve been looking at this issue for a year (behind closed doors with no timeline or report offered), no administrator has bothered to talk with a single undocumented American.  Next week, Fords for Immigrant Justice will begin collecting testimony (in the form of youtube videos) and committee member applications for the HTRC which will be open to the public on Haverford.eu- “where we take the D out of Haverford’s edu.” D for discrimination.

The announcement was an honest look at the World As It Should Be.  It included Jose’s undocumented voice and the self-evident truths embedded in his story.  Far from a lie, this email upheld the true spirit of the Honor Code and of the Haverford community.  I hope the Interim President will reconsider her decision. I urge her to copy and paste my email above her signature and to send it back out to the student body immediately. If she has doubts, I urge her to call Jose and ask him what he thinks is the right thing to do.

Sincerely,

Ed Menefee

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33 Responses

  1. Lee Anderson says:

    I think it is outrageous for Edward to say that his email was not a fraud.  By impersonating someone with greater power in order to further his political goals, he has done something very fraudulent and ethically questionable.  I do think he owes the President an apology for misrepresenting her office.  I know of many students who sent the email to their parents, who then circulated it.  Edward should really put more thought into how his actions have impacted others.  

    • RJ Rushmore says:

      Ed committed an act of non-violent civil disobedience against a perceived injustice. We go to Haverford. Aren’t those the sort of actions we should support.

      Perhaps to get a different perspective on this issue, watch this film about The Yes Men  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1-PMyv9UEM. They use some similar tactics to Ed to draw attention to injustice, and have been celebrated for it. I imagine that many Haverford students would celebrate The Yes Men’s actions. It’s just that this time we seem to be on the receiving end of them.

      • Jacob Lowy says:

        If you look at the Wikipedia definition (this isn’t an academic paper), it is obvious that Ed Menefee failed to engage in civil disobedience. The only thing he highlighted is how easy it is to generate a fraudulent email and impersonate someone. Civil disobedience involves openly revealing one’s identity during the action, which he failed to do. This is not an appropriate way to foster thoughtful and productive conversation about the immigration issue. Civil Disobedience involves breaking the direct rule that you are trying to change, not federal fraudulency laws.  Sadly, rather than talking about the immigration issue, we are now talking about how Ed Menefee pretended to be President Creighton.

         “Electronic civil disobedience can include web site defacements, redirects, denial-of-service attacks, information theft and data leaks, illegal web site parodies, virtual sit-ins, and virtual sabotage. It is distinct from other kinds of hacktivism in that the perpetrator openly reveals his identity. Virtual actions rarely succeed in completely shutting down their targets, but they often generate significant media attention.”

         (Cited on Wikipedia by Jeffrey S. Juris (2005), “The New Digital Media and Activist Networking within Anti-Corporate Globalization Movements”,Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science(Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science) 597 (Cultural Production in a Digital Age): 189–208.)

        • “If you look at the Wikipedia definition”
          “Civil disobedience involves openly revealing one’s identity during the action,”

          I am very sorry for how badly my alma mater has failed you.

          • Joseph Seiler says:

            oh i missed the part at the end of the original email where he said “jk guys this isn’t actually the president this is me, Ed Menefee.” what i got from the article was that he did pretend to be someone else and didn’t take ownership for his actions until he was called out by the administration.

          • Lee Anderson says:

            Last time I checked, this was a civil discussion of a controversial email, not a forum for personal attacks.  If you’re going to say something on this forum, please do limit it to attacking only what is said, not who is saying it.

        • RJ Rushmore says:

          Ed did reveal his identity. Not in the email itself, but in due course. It doesn’t seem like Ed ever intended to keep his identity a secret any longer than it was necessary for the action to be effective and draw attention to this issue. Kinda like the Boston Tea Party. But I guess that didn’t qualify as civil disobedience… Stupid founding fathers.

  2. There are more meaningful ways to create change both on and off campus for a more just society than choosing to impersonate someone against their will. It is a shame, because this is truly a worthy cause whose advancement has been poisoned by this act of fraud. Ed’s actions make it that much harder for actual change in the college’s admissions policy to occur.

    • Matt (and Lee),

      I am curious what elements of Ed’s email made you or anyone you know think the email was written by President Creighton. The subject line, “Official Apology to the Undocumented American Community,” is very unlike an official Haverford email. The email was not sent out to hc-allstudents, but those who received it were Bcc-ed. The explicit apology to an individual applicant is perfect as the climax of a hoax, but makes no sense in the context of an allstudents email from the President.

      I do not think it is illegal to create an email address that sounds like that belonging to someone else. The “fraud” had no malicious effects except I guess you could say manipulating people’s emotions for a few hours. I promise Ed did not mean to hurt any students in his actions, but it is your right to feel that what he did was inappropriate. That being said, it is simply incorrect that “Ed’s actions make it that much hard for actual change in the college admissions policy to occur.” Haverford has not provided any indications that they are considering changing the college admissions policy, and since Ed is the only active member of Fords4ImmigrantJustice, the chances of Haverford adopting “admissions equality” without Ed’s email are 0%. Perhaps they are still 0%, we will see, but the political situation is certainly no worse than it was.

      If you care a lot about admissions equality and would like to join the struggle, we would be happy to have you. I am a member of Mawrters4ImmigrantJustice, which already successfully established admissions equality at Bryn Mawr. We are now working to solidify that achievement and establish better resources for undocumented students on the BMC campus.

      Please contact me at jlaks@haverford.edu if you would like to continue this conversation or if you want to get involved.

      Jon

      • Lee Anderson says:

        Having initially read the email, it looked identical to an email that the President would send.  While an investigative eye would have caught that the email was from a gmail account, the writing style of the email is very simular to what the President has used in previous emails.  It was also labeled as “HC-Students-Broadcast,” a system that is carefully monitored for approval. It is ridiculous to argue that the email was not misrepresenting the President, as that was clearly the intent of the fake email signed “Joanne V. Creighton.”  Many students thought it was from her.  There is no question of this.

        I agree with Matt fully.  While I support some form of equality for applicants (though I think Ed’s proposals are not financially feasible), I think this email has put activists of this cause in an extremely negative light.  There are better ways to promote justice than deceit.  I would fully support, for example, a protest march on Founders Green or a mass visit to the President’s office hours.  I think Matt is spot on: this email was very misguided and detracted from the cause. 

        • “While an investigative eye would have caught that the email was from a gmail account”

          Look, I understand that CSI isn’t what it used to be, but you are really straining the word “investigative” when you use it to mean “looking at the field that tells you who sent the message”

      • Koreana Pak says:

        Do you mean it wasn’t the intention to make people believe the email was actually sent from the President? Ed’s actions are much more understandable in that light. This is unfortunate, because I think most people thought it was real – that they were deliberately deceived.

        I think whatever discomfort this email caused us is a beneficial thing – we could all use a little discomfort and reality shoved in our faces. That being said, it was wrong to send an email that could have potentially led an
        undocumented student to believe that they would now be receiving the
        same financial aid, only to realize later that it wasn’t true. (I also feel sympathy for the stress this must have caused Creighton).

        However, I don’t want to criticize Ed’s methods because frankly, what have I done? Also, there’s a more important issue, as Waleed says below:  the undocumented students.

    • This was the constant rejoinder for any political action that so much as ruffled one’s hair when I was at Haverford, and I’m disappointed to see that nothing has changed.  “You’ve discredited the debate!  There are more meaningful ways to create change!”  You have the option to determine whether agitation is meaningful: you can consider it, you can reconcile how it has disrupted you with how you thought the world to be, or you can reject it in the name of Order and Not Making a Fuss.  The campus was politically dead in my time for exactly this reason.

      You are all conservatives.  You cling to the status quo like a lifeline and do not understand that it is a noose.  You should all be ashamed for using the word “fraud” in this way.

      • (2012 alumnus here)

        It’s not that there are more meaningful ways to create change, it’s that there are more effective ones. Haverford, like any college/university except maybe Hampshire, is a slooowwwww institution to change. That makes it conservative in behavior but not necessarily in ideology. Haverford probably *wants* to make this admissions change. Haverford probably *will*, and *would have* probably made it sooner had Ed Menefee not employed these tactics.

        Institutions look before they leap. There are lawyers and accountants and Board members to consult with first before decisions are made. Liabilities, whether they be perceived or real, have to be reconciled. That’s the fact of running an institution with responsibilities rather than a student club which has the freedom to act in a completely willy-nilly, carefree manner if it wants.

        The student body, sadly, fails to understand how to effectively work and lobby an “institution” far too often. Also, as it completely refreshes every 4 years, said student body has putridly awful historical memory. Thank God The Clerk has stepped up this year as the Bi-Co News has faded because newspapers are the only source of what happened 5+ years ago on campus. The administration has been rejecting Plenary resolutions since the days of Tommy T. Student revolutions like this have been happening since at least the same time, with mixed success. But change does usually eventually happen at Haverford.

        Every 4-year-generation thinks its problems and challenges are unique and have never come before. The issues may be different from year to year (because prior issues eventually cease to *be* issues because change does happen at Haverford), but the concepts and tactics and processes aren’t. Haverford students would do well to do what they’re good at: research who the administration are and how they work, research the external factors (ie, federal gov’t, finances, etc) that are making the administration hesitate on completing an action, and then meet, meet, meet with administrators and lobby, lobby, lobby with compelling arguments that ally concerns about any external factors to change.

        • “Haverford probably *wants* to make this admissions change. Haverford probably *will*, and *would have* probably made it sooner had Ed Menefee not employed these tactics.”

          People are not screaming fraud and mounting administrative action because of a minor difference in tactical effectiveness.  They are alarmed in the defense of the status quo, as are you.  

          You are describing the observation of gradual change as a prescription for the best and indeed only moral choice in tactics.  This is disingenuous.  Gradual change happens because the far greater changes that are actually needed are demanded in ways that shock and threaten the existing power structure.  It does not happen because you have asked politely.

          • Joseph Seiler says:

            As a current Haverford student I would like to thank you for telling me how I feel and why I am offended at Ed’s email. I was really unsure what this feeling was but you cleared it up for me. This school really needs more people like you who know exactly why people have different opinions than you (because we are conservative and afraid of change, not because we have different beliefs). Can you please come back and just direct everything because clearly it is not valid for me to feel insulted and betrayed by a student impersonating the president and making a fraudulent email(and according to the government this does count as fraud).

          • Koreana Pak says:

            I love you. Although, I did appreciate the email in a way – it made me think about an issue I’d been ignoring. I didn’t really feel insulted. I certainly felt sympathy for Creighton, but I was honestly surprised how angry others were about being fooled. The only thing I thought was seriously wrong with his email was that it could fool undocumented students – imagine thinking you were going to get financial aid, and then being told it’s not true. That’s terrible. Whatever anger or insult we felt at being fooled I honestly think is trivial in comparison. Whatever violation of the community’s trust/the Code the email caused I also think is trivial compared to the violation of the code that an unequal policy towards undocumented students already causes. I wonder if people aren’t being a little selfish in how personally they’re taking this, instead of thinking about the people it really affects. I could say, “it affects me since I’m part of the community”, but how many of us can honestly say that we genuinely feel that for more than a moment of self righteous anger? I can’t, at least. Of course, I’m being self righteous now too, haha.

    • Erik Wright says:

       I just don’t think that the argument that Ed’s actions ‘poisoned’ his cause or slowed the progress towards admissions reform here at Haverford ‘holds water’, so to speak. He behaved belligerently, but I think the reasonable line of criticism ends there.

  3. Waleed Shahid says:

    you know…we could also talk about the ethical consequences of having a policy that doesn’t give financial aid to undocumented students instead of the ethical consequences of impersonating the president.

  4. hcclerk says:

    Hi, moderator commenting here. We haven’t posted any formal comment policy, but I just wanted to give a general notice that we look for comments that contribute to the conversation and will delete comments from trolls. Since we haven’t posted our policy yet, if we delete your comment, we’ll notify you by email (provided the one listed is real). You can direct questions about this to our email account, hcclerk@gmail.com. But keep up the conversation and thanks for your cooperation. -Thy

  5. Jacki LaBua says:

    I completely agree with Waleed. We could continue bickering about Ed’s
    methods, but for better or for worse you can’t deny that the email has
    brought plenty of attention to an issue that most of us (I’ll admit
    myself included) had forgotten about. I also got the implication that Ed
    has been working through legitimate channels for quite a while without
    any substantive success.

    Controversial methods completely aside: are Ed’s claims true? We really have no idea, because as he mentioned, we have heard zero from the administration about how the process has been going.Is it entitled of me to expect some transparency from the institution our tuition dollars support?

    “He (Jess Lord) has told me that he has never disputed that the admissions process is
    separate and unequal and that there are no longer any financial concerns with extending fair, need-blind admissions to undocumented applicants…any concerns about legality are and always have been bogus.”: If there are no financial or legal concerns, then I would love to hear from the
    administration what is holding them up. If they still have legitimate reasons to not accept it, fine – but either way they least owe us an explanation.

    “testimony from undocumented Tri-co and high school
    students”:  Instead of making this all about Ed, the students who this actually impacts have a right to having their voices heard as well. It doesn’t seem fair to jump to conclusions based on one subversive action without listening to the whole story.

    This debate is only going to be discredited by the hoax if all we do is debate the hoax itself. Maybe we can put aside our obsession with talking about the Honor Code for a bit and do what we can to help make admissions as fair as possible?

    • Transparency *is* an area where Haverford administrators have always fallen a bit short, I do agree there. This case is no different. It seems Ed has been attempting to work through legitimate channels for some time, but he should have kept doing that and added a bit of a grassroots PR ground-game: demonstrate on Founders Green, apply to attend the student lunch at the Board of Managers meeting and talk it up there, heck – I’m a fan of sending an email asking for updates on the decision making progress and asking for a meeting to senior staff every single day if you have to. After being in the full time professional world for a while now, theres no more effective motivator than an overloaded inbox. Enough legitimate, annoying-without-committing-fraud tactics and enough time, Haverford will pass this.

    • Koreana Pak says:

       I agree with Waleed as well! I also want to have more information and to hear from the administration about exactly what’s going on. I think it would be great if we could have an open discussion/panel about this.

      • Ope Martins says:

        I admit I am VERY angry about Menefee’s actions, and upset that they are the source of discussion, but I also agree that discussion needs to take place and in an open forum. I think what Haverford needs right now is information and answers. Instead of accusing the administration I would appreciate if they chose of their own accord to come forward and put our doubts to rest (or confirm them). It does not matter so much what they are or are not doing, but I would appreciate knowing the difference.

  6. [wrong location, see post below]

  7. SameeSulaiman says:

    I am truly inspired by the author of this action and only wish I ever had the courage to take an action like it during my time at Haverford.
    I say to Ed that you are not the first to confront racial and economic injustices at Haverford and will not be the last. As an active student on campus I realized there was (and continues to be) a very systematic way of dealing with students who wanted to make institutional changes. The administration will:

    1. Listen to your concerns in a very kind and open manner.
    2. They will tell you that they will look into it and hope you do not bother them again.
    3. If you bring it up again and try to sustain a conversation they will keep telling you they are discussing it internally.
    4. If it becomes more of a public conversation due to your organizing they will hold a town meeting of some sort and listen to wider concerns, again in a very kind manner.
    5. They will form a committee with a few deans and bring in the student/s who is making the most fuss.
    6. They will be kind and welcoming to this representative at scheduled meetings and make them feel like an equal partner in change. All the while holding more public hearings if necessary.
    7. They will keep meeting for a year or longer if necessary until the student grows tired of participating or the student goes abroad or they graduate.
    8. If the person or group choose to have a more public confrontation, such as Ed’s action, they will chastise you and remind you of the honor code that supposedly creates a more just community. Because how dare you try to change an institution in a way that is outside of their control.
    9. Students will chastise you as well, calling you unreasonable, irrational. Your actions are called ineffective, immoral, cowardly. They are furious that you would actually force them to confront this issue. They will say there are other ways while most of them will have never put more than a few token minutes into the just endeavor you are pursuing. They will go on to these online forums and self righteously denounce your activism and demand that you engage in the community in a purely intellectual (unthreatening) manner. 

    This is the moment Ed and his allies find themselves in. I promise you again that this cycle has occurred many times before and will continue to happen. The administration banks on you leaving in four years and many students distance themselves from their moral responsibilities in their privileged positions through intellectual elitism. 

    And yet changes have occurred. Institutions have been established. And Haverford has been bettered   by some of its more courageous students. So I hope you are steadfast in your work.

    And if the administration and student body has the audacity to use the honor code to try to tune down your voice to a tolerable volume, then I think you have the right to confront the administration yourself through the honor code in an an honor council trial. For failing to keep their promises to the community it serves and the ideal of social justice that they supposedly hold dear. 

    -Samee Sulaiman, Class of 2010

    • Ann Wolski says:

      I agree with you that the Haverford administration often seems to deliberately make things difficult for students hoping to effect change.  However, I think it’s fabulous that the student body has the “audacity” to use to the Honor Code to tune down Ed’s voice, because in my eyes and the eyes of many of my peers, he broke the Honor Code.  And an Honor Code doesn’t work when some people get away with breaking it and others don’t.  We are right to call Ed out for breaking trust with the community.

      • SameeSulaiman says:

        It is audacity that allows you to see Ed’s action as a violation of the honor code worth confrontation but not see that the actual injustice of discriminating against a marginalized group in society is a violation of the very spirit of the honor code and certainly not worth your breath. 

        This is the inherent failure of the honor code. It allows you to be fully complacent with a larger social injustice but promotes fury if someone forces you to confront this injustice and the clear remedy that the administration will not act upon. You cannot even see that what Ed has done is confront the entire community in an unorthodox way because there is no other way the honor code allows for. Do no pretend to care about the honor code if you are willing to confront Ed for offending your sensibilities but not confront  the administration in an exponentially more rigorous manner for  maintaining this unjust policy that actually hurts people. If you cannot do that, then you and everyone else who is confronting Ed but will not confront the Administration are hypocrites. If you will not confront this injustice actively than you are more like an angry mob than a constructive community.  

      • RJ Rushmore says:

        It is possible that Ed broke the Honor Code but that no action should be taken. I’m not sure whether or not what he did does constitute a violation. It probably does. But that does not mean that action should be taken. One example of this happening in the past is the Sunny-Side Up case – http://students.haverford.edu/code/abstracts/20102011/Sunny.pdf. That was a potential academic violation, but there’s no reason to say that a social violation could not be treated in a similar manner.

  8. Joseph Seiler says:

    also wrong location

  9. Matthew Cebul says:

    I actually don’t mind that Ed sent the email. I thought it was funny, once I heard about it, and I think that the issue is an important one. He also succeeded in generating campus discussion about it, which is never a bad thing. But I have two problems:

    First, it was clearly a fraud. Denying that pretending to be someone you are not is somehow not fraudulent a) makes absolutely no sense, and b) demonstrates Ed’s immaturity.  Similarly, I laughed out loud when he wrote that “did not intend to deceive people” through his email. Really? I’m pretty sure that was the entire point of the email–otherwise, he would have signed his name to it. He used another’s name to gain publicity. That is blatantly fraudulent. Of course, I understand his motivations–but he should be mature enough to own up to the consequences of his behavior, instead of attempting to shirk the label that his actions deserve.

    Second, for a letter that purports to show us the world “as it should be,” Ed presents little to no factual support or context for his argument. There is debate as to whether its a legal or a financial issue–so perhaps Ed should have used this opportunity to explain to students the laws surrounding financing undocumented students/Haverford’s current fiscal situation/ballpark me how much money it would cost to change our policy/how other schools have handled the problem/etc. Instead, he takes a moral high ground, telling us how the world ought to be without addressing even the basic issues at hand that are preventing that world from arising. Indeed, I find his letter particularly insulting to Jess Lord and others in the administration; Ed asserts that there are no legal or financial issues at stake (without actually addressing any of these factors), which directly implies that Jess Lord and company have no other motivations to prevent action besides being overtly prejudiced themselves. Perhaps Ed should consider that the college likely would have acted on this matter by now if there were absolutely no difficulty in doing so–but of course, it is more convenient for Ed to paint this picture of an oppressive administration than to address these concerns, as he likely knows little about them/has little response to them.

    If Haverford can do better on this issue, then we should. But that requires an informed student body. Ed succeeded in generating campus discussion, but he failed to provide supporters with any meaningful claims beyond “our administration is useless.” So while Ed basks in his 15 minutes of Haverford fanfare, his cause will get nowhere as a result of his actions.

  1. February 4, 2013

    […] From the Clerk: […]

  2. February 4, 2013

    […] Friday, the emailer, a sophomore on leave called Ed Menefee, outed himself, pushing back against the notion that his email was an act of fraud, as the university (which […]

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