New Brunswick

'I am her': U of M students rally in support of 'revenge porn' victim

Dozens of students at the University of Moncton rallied in support of a female student who became the victim of a hateful mass email this week.

'The student is not winning right now': students angry over administration's refusal to shut down email system

University of Moncton faces backlash over sexually explicit emails

5 years ago
Students are demanding that the University of Moncton shut down the campus email system after two more malicious messages were received by students and staff Wednesday 2:23

Students rallied together at the University of Moncton on Thursday night, in support of a young woman who became the victim of a malicious email campaign, that's sexual in nature.

Since last weekend, the university confirmed as many as eight malicious emails were sent to a large portion of the student body by the same attacker, against one of its female students. 

About 50 students attended the rally, which started at Le Coude, the campus bar. Students marched towards the administration building, where a few of them addressed the crowd. 

They chanted "let's stop the emails" and "I am her," in French.

Catherine Lapointe, left, and Sam Puchala, right, decided to organize a rally at the university after receiving a seventh and eighth hateful email on Wednesday night. (Radio-Canada)

Students spoke out about sexual violence, but also against the administration's handling of the crisis.

Emails on lockdown?

Many people on campus believe the school needs to shut down its email system until the attacker is found, but administration quickly disagreed. 

"As a university, as a place of freedom of expression, we have to make sure we can keep communicating," said Raymond Théberge, president and vice–chancellor of the University of Moncton. "That students can keep talking with each other, that we can keep working."

Théberge said if the school shut down its email system, it would be sending the message the attacker is winning.

About 50 students marched to the administration building on Thursday night, in support of the victim of the hateful mass email campaign. (Radio-Canada)

FEECUM president, Roxann Guerrette, strongly disagrees with the statement.

"The student is not winning right now," said Guerrette. "There's still private information that's being leaked, and I think he needs to think about our students first."

"There's other ways around not communicating via email," said Sam Puchala, a law student at the university. 

"We have phones, we have alternate emails. It's not worth the risk of someone's life. There are people who commit suicide over things like this."

Lack of support for sexual violence

Puchala and her friend decided to organize the protest after receiving a seventh and an eighth email on Wednesday night.

"The fact that we're at the eighth email, how many is it going to take?" she said.

She came with a poster that read "je suis elle," or "I am her" in English, with printed naked pictures of herself, to send the message this type of attack could have happened to anyone.

Roxann Guerrette, FEECUM president, is calling for a complete lockdown of the school email system until the attacker is found. (CBC)

But for other students, it's time we stop focusing on the incident, and rather on what the university could do better going forward.

"I don't want to victimize her anymore," said Geneviève Latour, another student. "Many people are touched by this incident."

A University of Moncton committee is working on putting together a policy on sexual violence by the fall semester.

In the meantime, the university has a counsellor to assist victims.

"We need a policy in place, we need more campaigns, we need more training," said Latour.