The South Orange Police Department (SOPD) is actively investigating a racially-charged email that was sent to Seton Hall’s African Student Association (ASA) on Monday, Sept. 25.
The email, which was sent from a student’s personal Gmail account, was subjected “Jiggaboo.” The message consisted of one sentence that read, “F*** you n******.”
According to an email sent by Student Services to the University community, the message was written by an off-campus source who hacked the student’s personal email account.
Patrick Linfante, associate vice president and director of Public Safety, said they were able to determine that the email was hacked because Google notified the student that someone in the North Bergen, N.J. area had accessed the account. After discovering the email came from off-campus, the University reported the incident to the SOPD on Oct. 2.
Sgt. Adrian Acevedo of the SOPD said that there are no current leads on the suspect. He said if the suspect is caught, they will face a minimum charge of harassment.
Acevedo said it is “difficult to nail down and find people doing cyber crime,” because it is a long process that involves court orders and warrants.
“It’s frustrating even for us as detectives,” Acevedo said.
Though the email was sent on Sept. 25, Yaa Opoku-Mensah, the president of the ASA, said that it was not seen until four days later. She said that she reported the email to Public Safety as soon as she saw it and met with Dr. Tracy Gottlieb, vice president of Student Services, Dean Karen Van Norman, associate vice president and dean of Student Life, and Dean Winston Roberts, assistant dean of Students, the same day.
Opoku-Mensah said when she first saw the email she was angry, but then she felt disappointed and disrespected.
“I think that in the climate of a divisive nation that the current administration is fostering, people feel threatened when inclusion is initiated in the slightest,” Opoku-Mensah wrote in an email. “When people try to label others with derogatory verbiage, it is purposely to bring others down.”
Gottlieb said that this incident is an uncommon occurrence on Seton Hall’s campus and that when she first learned of the email she was upset and appalled.
“At Seton Hall, we consider ourselves a family, a community, and families don’t act hateful,” Gottlieb wrote in an email.
According to Linfante, this is the only bias incident Public Safety has had to investigate this year.
Opoku-Mensah said that she had a message for the author of the email.
“Whatever ignorance, fear, hate, and/or hurt that you may carry in your heart against people of color only, I hope you know that it won’t EVER tear us down,” she said. “Don’t you ever forget that!”
Ashley Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.