ASMSU official accused of sending alleged spam e-mail
A top student government official will wait a week to find out if she faces punishment for sending an alleged spam e-mail to MSU faculty and staff.
The Student-Faculty Judiciary held a hearing Tuesday regarding an alleged spam e-mail that ASMSU Association Director Kara Spencer sent to administrators in September. The e-mail, which raised concerns about proposed changes to Welcome Week, reached 8 percent of the MSU faculty and staff.
Academic Technology Services, or ATS, representative Randall Hall appeared against Spencer, who is accused of violating two policies of the Student Life code, as well as the Network Acceptable Use Policy.
The first policy bans students from representing a group falsely, or using the group’s resources without proper authorization. The second outlaws the use of any university facility equipment or materials except for their authorized purposes.
Hall said Spencer violated the student laws by not going through specific steps required by ATS to send a bulk e-mail. Spencer said she was not aware of the rules.
Spencer also cited her right to free speech. In a prepared opening statement, Spencer referenced a letter that urged President Lou Anna K. Simon to dismiss all charges.
The letter was signed by Adam Kissel, director of the Individual Rights Defense Program of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
The American Civil Liberties Union also requested the university postpone the hearing until a “proper review” was made. The university denied that request, Spencer said.
Dr. Katherine Gross, director of the Kellogg Biological Station, initially approached ATS in September with concerns as to how Spencer had e-mailed what she believed was the deans, directors and chairs list. Hall said that response led to ATS approaching Spencer.
“We don’t monitor what anyone does, but if we get a complaint we have to respond and take appropriate action,” Hall said.
Gross was not present at the hearing.
Of the 391 e-mails Spencer sent, Spencer said she didn’t receive any negative responses. All responses asked for more information regarding Provost Kim Wilcox’s Welcome Week proposal.
Sandte Stanley, Academic Assembly vice chairperson for external affairs, was one of two witnesses to testify at the hearing. Stanley called Spencer “a very dedicated student,” and warned against setting a precedent that would deter MSU students from sending similar bulk e-mails in the future.
“All Miss Spencer was doing was connecting to people and representing them, much like I have done, just like many students have done that have come before her and will come after her,” Stanley said.
The hearing was the university’s first regarding spam violation from an e-mail.
Hall did not call on any witnesses to speak on his behalf.
“I have no witnesses, just the facts,” he said.
Hall said that if an e-mail is sent out in bulk, it doesn’t matter what it says — it’s still considered spam.
Although Spencer said she expected there to be some conflict regarding her e-mail, she didn’t foresee a conflict with the Internet policies.
“I would not have sent it if someone would have said to me I think this could be a problem,” she said.
“I anticipated some blowback from this on a political level. I did not believe in any way or form that this would be considered spam or bulk e-mail.”