What does #Gamergate have to do with UNC policy and the Scholarly Communications Office?

If you are unfamiliar with #Gamergate, Anita Sarkeesian is a popular feminist vlogger at the video blog Feminist Frequency, where she discusses issues of misogyny in video games.  Her videos regularly average about 300,000 hits and her three most popular videos Damsel in Distress: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 combined have over 3 million hits. Sarkeesian has won a 2013 honorary award from National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers and the 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award. She frequently speaks at conferences and university campuses despite receiving rape and death threats for discussing issues of misogyny in video games.

Most recently, and famously, Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak at the Utah State University and received three major threats one of which said that “the deadliest school shooting in American history” would occur if she spoke. Sarkeesian eventually cancelled the speaking engagement, because the University would still allow concealed carry weapons into the lecture despite the threats of mass shooting.

What could and would UNC do if such an incident happened here?   UNC has a policy on Prohibited Discrimination Harassment and related Misconduct: Including Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Violence, Interpersonal Violence and Stalking.  The policy applies to people harassing or being harassed or discriminating or being discriminated on campus and off-campus if the harassment would otherwise by covered by Title IX. If anyone uses the UNC wireless Internet to harass another student (or invited lecturer like Sarkeesian), the policy goes into effect and the University can take action.

If a student or lecturer is threated through email, it can be easy to reverse engineer the IP address and determine the geolocation of the IP address. It’s never a good idea to threaten someone’s life over the Internet, but it’s just really stupid if you do it from your university’s wireless.

Although we don’t solve crimes at the Scholarly Communications Office, we can help you learn more about acceptable use of the Internet at UNC.  Contact us if you have questions.