Accusations Fly in Debate Over Use of Lowell Open

After students on the Lowell House open e-mail list denounced messages on black history as “spam” last week, others responded with accusations of racism, and a flurry of more than 60 messages ensued.

The incident prompted the House Masters and Senior tutor to e-mail students to urge greater courtesy.

Brandon M. Terry ’05 began forwarding the black history facts to the list daily on Feb. 1.

He said that he never anticipated the negative reaction.

But some students objected to the posts, calling them inconsequential to the Lowell House community.

“They are strictly outside of the guidelines of the e-mail list. Generally e-mails are about house life or discussions about issues pertaining to the Lowell House community,” Graham R. Stanton ’05 said.

When the debate on the list became personal, and accusations of racism began to fly, House officials intervened.

“The tone and language used in some of the recent posting on Lowell-Open regarding Black History Month has been dismissive and discourteous to many members of our community,” Lowell House Masters Diana L. Eck and Dorothy A. Austin, and Senior Tutor John L. Ellison wrote in an e-mail to the house.

According to Eck, the masters and senior tutor decided to send the e-mail to students after being approached by the Lowell House Committee.

“We were asking for students to demonstrate more consideration in their arguments,” Eck wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson.

Terry said the response to his e-mails “borders on intolerance.” He said that he thinks it is well within his rights to post black history facts on the list and that he continued posting despite the complaints.

The Black Students Association (BSA) had asked members to forward facts about black history to House e-mail lists during Black History Month.

“We wanted to share our history and our culture with other members of the community,” BSA president Charles M. Moore ’04 said.

The debate eventually sparked accusations of racism.

“My arguments were dismissed as racist and I was even compared to Trent Lott,” Catherine E. McCaw ’03 said.

Terry was not the only student who said he was surprised by the angry reactions of some students to the black history postings.