Student activists at Harvard Law School (HLS) attempted to use the FBI to track a blog critical of them, while school administrators tried to find the identities of its authors, according to recently leaked emails.
In recent months, activists have formed a group dubbed Royall Must Fall, which has campaigned for a variety of changes at HLS, most notably the removal of the school’s historic seal, which is based on the coat of arms of a slave-owning family. Driving the success behind the seal’s removal was an alleged “hate crime” that occurred in November, when students found black tape covering portraits of black HLS faculty.
Soon after the tape incident, an anonymous blog titled Royall Asses popped up. The blog attacked the Royall Must Fall movement, argued the black tape incident was a false flag hoax, and in particular went after three members (Mawuse H. Vormawor, Alexander J. Clayborne, and Brian Klosterboer) it said may have conspired to perpetrate the hoax. The three students were dubbed the “Royall Asses,” hence the name of the blog. Later, a fourth student, Derecka Purnell, was added as well.
Since the incident, the blog has been mostly dormant, though it recently resurfaced to mock Husam El-Qoulaq, another HLS student who disrupted a recent campus event by calling Israeli politician Tzipi Livni “smelly.”
But the blog definitely attracted the attention of Royall Must Fall. So much so, in fact, that they got Harvard to investigate them, and considered trying to bring in the FBI as well.
This revelation comes from two emails published Friday on Royall Asses, both sent by HLS student Christian Williams to a group of about 40 students that included all three students labeled as “Royall Asses.”
In the first email, sent out Dec. 6, Williams discusses threats that group members have received due to their “racial justice movement,” and says that at her father’s suggestion she plans to report such threats to the FBI. Williams doesn’t just stop at reporting threats, though. She also says that if Vormawor, Klosterboer and Clayborne give their permission, she would ask the FBI to start monitoring the Royall Asses blog, even though the blog had made no threats against them.
In the second email, Williams discusses a meeting with three HLS administrators, who apparently told her that Harvard’s IT department and police department were both trying to find out the identities of the person (or people) behind the Royall Asses blog.
Royall Asses claims that it came into possession of the two emails because one of the people Williams contacted was appalled that the student activists and Harvard itself would use “Gestapo tactics to invade student privacy.” That student forwarded the emails to Royall Asses.
If Williams’ emails accurately represent Harvard’s actions, then it suggests Harvard attempted to investigate (and potentially expose) its own students simply for running a blog that criticized left-wing elements on campus.
It’s not the first time Harvard has entered into dicey territory when it comes to privacy. In 2013, Harvard College Dean Evelynn Hammonds resigned shortly after the revelation Harvard had searched the email accounts of school deans in an effort to identify the person responsible for leaking information to the press.
The effort to root out the identity of the Royall Asses blogger also stands in contrast to Harvard’s handling of the El-Qoulaq case. Even though El-Qoulaq’s stunt occurred at a public event, Harvard attempted to obscure his identity, even censoring out his offensive question from a video of the event.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to the three administrators named in Williams’ email, as well as Williams herself, but has not yet received a reply.
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