An Instagram account named “menofdickinson” posting misogynistic content has been found in relation to the college. The account was deactivated on Tuesday, April 6.
The account and its posts took stances on tearing down ideas supportive of women’s rights. Some topics of posting included suggesting that women maliciously make false rape allegations against successful men, comparing women’s’ rights to a myth, wife beating and strapping explosives to women, amongst others. Its biography read “Empowering men since 1783. Made for men and woMEN.” Some of the posts on the page include a paper trick that said “I am a sex offender,” and another featuring a tweet on prostitution where the caption reads “Sex ‘work’ is not work, you’re just a hoe.”
According to the posting history of the account, the first post is dated to February 6, the same week that student protests erupted at the college over perceived failings in the college’s Title IX office. This post has a meme, which compares HUB protesters wearing black in solidarity to an individual wearing black due to depression. This caption reads. “Looks like things are finally settling down. Now what do we complain about?”
When Ellis Tucci ’20 discovered the page a while back, he quickly forgot about it. “I saw a post about it on my friend’s Instagram story and decided to take a look at the things they have posted. Needless to say I was shocked and repulsed, both by the posts themselves and the people that had liked them,” he said.
Tucci decided to take action and discover who was behind the account. “Working with a few of my friends, we traced the I[nternet] P[rotocol adress] (IP) of the account and matched the phone number used to register it to the person we now believe to be behind it,” he said.
Tucci, amongst other students, noted that the IP address of the account matched the location, phone make, model and number of a Dickinson College student. Then, using the email address, [email protected], associated with the Instagram account, several students put the student’s name and phone number into the ‘forgot password’ function of Instagram in an attempt to verify the ownership of the account. When this student’s name and phone number were input to the ‘forgot password’ function, a verification message was sent to the associated phone number. Providing a different name or phone number in association with the Gmail address for the ‘forgot password’ function instead yielded an error message.
The student whose name, phone model number and IP address are associated with the account denies both creating and operating the account.
Brenda Bretz, vice president of institutional effectiveness and inclusivity, said that the college was notified of the account when a “number of current students and alums contacted the President’s Office, faculty, administrators or BERT.” From there, the college took several actions.
The first was that Dickinson contacted Instagram “requesting they take down the site,” Bretz said. Because of the nature of the account, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) also have “attempted to identify the owner of the account,” according to Bretz.
Title IX Coordinator Kat Matic also verified this. “We asked the college’s General Counsel to contact the company to request they take down the account; we have responded to students, faculty, staff, and alumni and provided information on support services and resources,” she said.
Bretz also said that because this is an ongoing investigation, “I cannot share the progress on that other than to say that every legal and authorized avenue is being pursued to identify the owner of the account.”
Matic said, “I appreciate the commitment to the College shown by community members to bring this to our attention and the quick response by many who brought information forward to support prompt action regarding this matter.” She also said any students negatively impacted by this matter and who may need supportive services to reach out to her.
Bretz, as she has only seen screenshots of the account, said, “It is offensive that anyone would think this is appropriate on any level. It is also disheartening that at this particular moment when so many are dealing with issues of life and death, and many are relying on social media as a way to connect and build community, that there might be individuals associated with Dickinson [College] who are using those platforms to attack, degrade, and instill fear.”
Nick Leidy ’22 commented on the “sexism and bigotry” of the account. “It was really disheartening to know that some of our peers think that way. However, it was really awesome seeing so many people come together to combat this issue and want to take steps towards creating an educational environment about rape culture and other pressing issues,” he said.
Madelaine McDowell ‘22 said it’s disappointing to see that there is “maliciousness” at the college when inclusivity is supposed to be a standard. “These things are obviously everywhere on the internet, but to link it with the college’s name shows that these people feel legitimate enough to put their sexist opinions in a place where they should not be.”