Several ASUC senators have been targeted by anonymous emails harassing them with derogatory comments and personal attacks since last semester.
The emails have been coming from five separate anonymous email addresses since September, according to SQUELCH! Senator Dree Kavoussi, who has been receiving harassing emails since December.
SQUELCH! Senator Madison Gordon, who was targeted in an email sent to the whole senate in November, said the emails began as a critique and commentary on senators’ accessibility and accountability, but eventually began to target senators on a personal level.
Gordon said she believes whoever is behind these emails intends to create chaos and harass senators. She added that female or queer-identifying senators have especially been targeted by the emails.
“It’s been a trend that this person feels more comfortable saying mean things to female senators and that shouldn’t be taken lightly … (or) as a coincidence,” Gordon said.
Student Action Senator Ori Herschmann said he has received 10 to 15 emails since September, which, according to him, became more targeted once he established his pro-Israel stance.
“I feel like the fact that I’m getting these emails means I’m doing the advocacy my community wants me to do,” Herschmann said.
One email, sent out to Student Action senators and ASUC President Pavan Upadhyayula, was a “report card” that graded the recipients’ performances during their terms and included derogatory remarks towards several senators. The email said the CalSERVE and SQUELCH! parties would also receive similar progress reports later that week, though according to CalSERVE and Cooperative Movement Party Senator Austin Pritzkat, senators have not yet received any such emails.
“This recent email sent out has been the catalyst for figuring out this whole situation,” Pritzkat said.
Pritzkat said several people worked to find the source of the emails and, through a password retrieval screen for one of the anonymous email accounts, were able to identify several digits in a phone number that matched Pritzkat’s phone number.
Pritzkat said he was accused of sending the “report card” email and speculates that whoever is responsible was trying to make him the “fall guy” for the anonymous emails.
According to Pritzkat, who says he did not send the emails, he later received a text saying that his phone number had just been added to the email account. He was able to access the account and view the full phone number that was originally linked to the email address.
Kavoussi said she and other senators later discovered that the phone number originally linked to that email account was linked to all the other accounts connected to the anonymous emails.
The phone number originally associated with the anonymous emails is connected to an ASUC senator’s staff member, Kavoussi said, though she declined to name the individual. Kavoussi said the Center for Student Conduct is currently investigating the incident to determine the source of the emails.
“I have no idea why anyone would send these emails,” Pritzkat said. “Not only are they hurtful and derogatory and offensive, but anyone in the ASUC who spends their time writing fake, hurtful, anonymous emails certainly is not spending their time serving students or doing their job.”
Kavoussi said she and other senators are in the beginning stages of organizing a senate committee that would discuss a potential suspension bylaw for any member of the ASUC under investigation by the Center for Student Conduct.