CHICAGO (CBS) — Sexual assault victims on the University of Chicago campus staged a protest Wednesday night, saying they were victimized again by anonymous hackers who made threats against their safety.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports hundreds of students, alumni, and community members were fighting back against the hackers, making a strong show of support.
More than 100 students participated in Wednesday night’s peace march in the Hyde Park neighborhood. They said there is a state of emergency on campus, following an online feud over the issue of sexual assault.
The protesters said they’re angry about a group of hackers calling themselves the “UChicago Electronic Army,” which hacked the website of MODA, a University of Chicago student organization that showcases campus fashion, on Wednesday, with a message that threatened further sexual assaults.
“Hopefully the class of 2018 is paying attention because otherwise the UChicago Electronic Army is going to have to rape harder,” the hackers wrote.
The UChicago Electronic Army’s stated objective, according to the text posted on the hacked MODA website, is to keep “the Hyde Park community safe from people who publicly accuse other people of committing varying levels of gender-based violence without any proof whatsoever…”
Proving their threat more than hollow words, they also posted the name and photo of a rape survivor.
Their post was both a stated and symbolic retaliation for a Tumblr post called “The Hyde Park List,” identifying male students “known to commit varying levels of gender-based violence.”
That list, which was taken down Sunday night just to reappear Tuesday with added names before getting taken down again, classified undergraduate University of Chicago students as code red and code orange — meant to signify the danger of their alleged crimes.
In a post on Wednesday morning, which has since been deleted, “The Hyde Park List” wrote, “Firstly, this is absolutely not a rape list. We are not accussing [SIC] the individuals on the list of sexual assault, or even sexual harassment. We are not claiming to be judge, jury, and executioner. The individuals on the list are individuals we would warn our friends about, because of their troubling behavior towards romantic or sexual partners.”
The post then expounded that the list is meant to be privately shared between University of Chicago students.
It’s “The Hyde Park List” that the UChicago Electric Army used as an excuse to hack MODA, make rape threats and publicly release information of a sexual assault survivor, writing that people “need to be reminded who’s boss around here.”
Christina Pillsbury, a University of Chicago alum who said she is a rape survivor, said she and other survivors do not take the UEA post lightly.
“I saw this, and was really scared, terrified, upset in many many different ways; and worried for her, and worried for campus, and not willing to let these hackers control this conversation, or have any power,” she said. “I woke up and saw this. This is a threat against me, even as an alum. This is a threat against everyone at the university and should be taken very, very seriously.”
“We need to do something that says that we stand with survivors, and that the hackers – these awful people who have threatened our campus – are not the boss,” she added.
The university said it has contacted the operators of both the website where the Hyde Park List and the UChicago Electronic Army post appeared, and asked them to remove the content. The school also said threats or unsupported allegations could lead to disciplinary action.
“The University is committed to sustaining an academic community in which all members can participate freely and fully. Part of that is owning and defending one’s ideas. Anonymous accusations and commentary do not live up to those values and undermine full participation,” the school said in a statement on its website. “Any threats to personal safety are unacceptable. Depending on the facts of a case, anonymous or unsupported accusations, threats, or damaging commentary made by one student or students against other students could rise to a disciplinary issue.”