On August 31, a number of female freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania received an email with the subject line "Wild Wednesday." It was an invite to a party from the off-campus fraternity OZ, which the school does not recognize.
But the controversial part of the email was its appallingly sexist content. Written in the form of a poem, the invite told the "ladies" that they were "looking for the fun ones" and to "please wear something tight," among other offensive statements.
When some of the female upperclassmen heard about the email from the freshmen who received it, they were outraged.
"When we saw the email, my friends and I decided that we no longer wanted to be passive bystanders while horrible things happen on our campus and campuses across America," Amanda Silberling, a UPenn junior, told A Plus in an email. So they decided to expose the fraternity's sexism to the entire campus.
Silberling and her friends printed out hundreds of copies of the email, with the words "This is what rape culture looks like" emblazoned at the top. "We are watching," it cautioned at the bottom, followed by resources for sexual assault survivors. They plastered the flyers all over campus, took photos, and continued to spread the message on social media.
Besides calling out OZ's misogyny, Silberling said that they wanted the freshmen who received the email to know that their fellow students were looking out for them. "[We] want their experience at Penn to be as safe as possible," she said.
Syra Ortiz-Blanes, another student involved in producing the flyers, told A Plus:
Students need to hold each other accountable for harmful and sexist ideologies and behaviors. It's not about attacking specific organizations or people. Yes, it's about calling things out, but it's also about constructively engaging in dialogue to address systemic misogyny and rape culture.
News about the flyers was picked up by local media outlets and quickly caught the attention of Pennsylvania politicians, among them Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey who tweeted their support.
The community has been vocal in their support of what the group did, too.
"So many friends, professors, and faculty on campus have voiced their support as well. I've also heard from members of other fraternities on Penn's campus telling me that they support our initiative and want to have conversations about this in their organizations," Silberling said. "Members of Greek and non-Greek communities alike have expressed that they want to continue this dialogue."
"This email is not the first of its kind," Silberling added, "nor will it be the last, We want to make a difference."