Student leaders, administrators respond to Morty’s Angels

Rebecca Savransky, Campus Editor

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After a website ranking Northwestern women based on their physical appearance spurred multiple student complaints, administrators and student leaders responded this week commending the NU community for the way they addressed the issue and asking students to continue taking steps to foster a safe campus environment.

The website, Morty’s Angels, was live from Friday to Saturday and asked people to choose “who is hotter,” to create a top 50 list. Currently, the University is still not aware of who created the website, said Joan Slavin, director of NU’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Office and Title IX coordinator, in an email to The Daily. She noted her office is encouraging anyone to share any information they know about who is behind its existence, however she added the University is unsure if the creators are affiliated with the NU community at all.

During the time the site was active, multiple students filed complaints with the Department of Campus Inclusion and Community about the website’s existence.

Students indicated the website was “objectifying, humiliating and demeaning to women,” among other issues in emails to Slavin’s office, she said. She noted the website may be in violation of the University’s sexual harassment policy.

“The University’s Policy on Sexual Harassment provides that sexual harassment can include any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or offensive environment for others,” Slavin wrote. “Comments about students’ attractiveness (including ranking people based on how ‘hot’ they are) could create a sexually hostile environment in violation of this policy.”

Slavin said students also stated their photos and names were misused without their consent.

Lesley-Ann Brown, executive director for Campus Inclusion and Community, responded to student complaints Tuesday, noting the website was not affiliated with the University. The site, mortysangels.nu, was registered through the .nu domain, which is not owned by the University, Brown said. She added that Slavin had emailed the site requesting it be taken down and thanked individuals for voicing their concerns.

“Thank you for making us aware of this website and for your commitment to ensuring the safety and integrity of our campus community,” Brown said in the email.

When the site was active, students took other actions against the website in addition to filing complaints. The website was hacked Saturday to display a message reading “F— this website,” in place of the names on the top 50 page. Later Saturday, the website was completely removed due to requests by University administrators, a creator of the website said in an email. During the time the site was active, it received about 224,000 votes, the creator said.

The Panhellenic Association executive board as well as the 12 chapter presidents made a statement Monday calling the website a form of “cyberbullying.” In the statement, members commended the community for responding so immediately to the presence of the website and taking steps to get it taken down. However, they emphasized that the website’s existence is a “manifestation of larger problems” at NU.

They noted those responsible for the website’s creation, once identified, will face consequences from the University Hearing and Appeals System and the legal system.

The statement called on members of the NU community to continue to take action to fight against these forms of cyberbullying in an effort to create a safer and more inclusive campus community.

“It may take only one or two people to launch a degrading website, but it takes a community of participants to decide whether to passively engage in activities like this, or to speak out against cyberbullying behavior and shut it down,” the statement said.

In the statement, the writers mentioned both Yik Yak and Collegiate ACB as other platforms that may hurt individuals and emphasized the importance of supporting peers and standing up against these issues.

“As members of this community, we all have a certain degree of power to step up and intervene to make Panhellenic life a little more loving, safe, and successful,” the statement said.

Email: rebeccasavransky2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @beccasavransky

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