Because You Can’t Get Enough of AutoAdmit

Spirit of Margaret Brent sent along this article from the UVa Law Weekly which demonstrates that, yes, the harassment and libel of female law students by shitstains on AutoAdmit has had demonstrable effects on the subjects’ careers:

Recently, several female UVA Law students have been targets of harassment by members of an online message board. This harassment, perpetrated anonymously by posters to AutoAdmit.com, carries potentially damaging repercussions for the women: at least one has already been contacted about it by her prospective employer, and others fear that it will injure their professional reputations. . . .

What’s more, nearly all of these threads are accessible through any Google search that includes the students’ names. In a recent exposé on the issues raised by similar content on AutoAdmit, the Washington Post cited a report that found about half of all U.S. hiring officials conduct internet searches of job applicants. According to the same study, approximately one-third of such searches generated results used to deny a job.

Indeed, one of the female UVA Law students on the “Top 14” site has already been contacted by her prospective law firm, where her pictures and the AutoAdmit comments about her had circulated. Although it has not changed her job situation, she feels that the site has already impaired her professional reputation. “People at firms read this stuff, and the word spreads. When I come into my law firm, this is not how I want to be seen.”

Emphasis added. Kinda puts the lie to all those people (*cough*AlthouseandReynoldandDr.Helen*cough*) who maintained that this was just harmless fun and no rational employer would EVER pay the slightest bit of attention to this!

This is exactly why damage to reputation is actionable; the kind of slander and harassment these women endured is going to follow them professionally for quite some time. Their undeserved reputations will precede them in the work world, and even where they don’t lose a job because of it, they’re going to have to work that much harder to prove themselves worthy of trust. They’re going to have to work that much harder to overcome the kind of speculation about whether there’s any truth to the AutoAdmit garbage that’s the inevitable result of something like this. They’re always going to be known as “that girl.”

The article is notable for a few other things, as well. First, the UVa students place a great deal of blame on the members of the UVa Law community who sent their photos into the “T14” hot-girls contest site and posted identifying information — full names and contact info — to AutoAdmit.

The worst part, as these women tell the Law Weekly, is that they wouldn’t have had to endure this ordeal if a few of their UVA Law classmates had duly respected their privacy. . . .

In mid-February, several of the site’s members organized a contest that was aimed at naming the “hottest” female student at a “Top 14” law school. To that end, the contest’s organizers solicited nominations from these schools; several UVA Law students responded by submitting dozens of photos of their classmates. In all, pictures of eight UVA Law women appeared on the “Top 14” site. None of them consented to having their pictures posted. . . .

Despite the fact that the “Top 14” site purported to protect the identities of the women pictured in its contest, AutoAdmit members soon began to reference many of them by name. In all, four UVA Law women had their full names posted on the message board. In addition to criticizing their appearances on the discussion threads, AutoAdmit members continually referred to some of these UVA Law students as “whores” and “sluts,” among other terms too obscene to print.

In other representative threads, an anonymous AutoAdmit poster wrote about performing sex acts on them, while another told them to “[g]et raped.” . . .

The Law Weekly spoke to several of the eight women from UVA Law whose pictures appeared on the site, and we agreed to protect their anonymity in order to prevent further harassment and threats against them. Although each expressed similar condemnation for the administrators of AutoAdmit and for the “Top 14” contest’s organizers, they saved particular condemnation for members of the UVA Law community who participated by either submitting pictures or by posting to the AutoAdmit board.

More than one stated that such actions shattered for them the sense of trust that UVA’s Honor system is meant to foster. One commented:

“When I first got here, everyone told me how this place was so safe that you can leave your laptop around without worrying about it being stolen. You would like to think that also means that people respect each other enough to not invade a fellow student’s privacy.”

Another told the Law Weekly that she was surprised that UVA students participated. “I would have thought that people had more respect for other members of the UVA community.” In addition, she resented having to walk through school “knowing that there were people here who had submitted pictures and who were posting about [her]” on the internet. She added that the UVA Law students who participated should be “embarrassed, ashamed, and guilty about what they’ve put [the women] through.” When they submitted pictures, they “should have known that the tone” of AutoAdmit’s message board would engender the kind of harassment it did.

While it may be tempting to dismiss this kind of reaction as naive, not every law school is cutthroat. I do remember hearing stories about Harvard and Columbia and how competitive they were, to the extent that students would cut pages out of books in the library. While that may well be apocryphal, I can honestly say that, outside the top 5 students or so, Michigan was pretty free of backbiting. Mostly, I think, because while we did get regular grades rather than the Yale system of pass/fail, we weren’t ranked until a year after graduation, and you have to ask for it (I never did until last year, when I had to. And I graduated 11 years ago). So there was no way to know exactly how you stood in relation to your classmates, and that cut way down on competition. People were very free with their course outlines, for example.

While I don’t know much about the atmosphere at UVa, it’s quite clear from the article that the reaction of the law school community could have been better:

Another laid the blame in part on UVA’s administration. “There is a reason there were so many UVA posts, and it’s not because we have attractive girls,” she stated. “The Stanford community gathered together and made sure no one submitted people. The deans at our school should have taken a more active role.”

Strictly speaking, there’s not a whole lot of direct action a school can take in a situation like this, but the success that Stanford had at preventing exactly what happened at UVa and at NYU and at Yale shows the value of an active, engaged administration. And when the administration isn’t interested, or concerns itself with the letter of the law, then students are going to be abused by other students. The fish rots from the head, after all.

Fortunately, though, at least some members of the UVa Law community didn’t feel constrained by notions of what was actionable or what the school could get involved in.

However, more than one of the women whose pictures were posted to the “Top 14” site have taken matters into their own hands. Some of the women have been able to determine who was responsible for submitting pictures of them without their consent, and have confronted these students.

This was possible because a UVA Law student (who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of harassment by AutoAdmit members) deceived the “Top 14” contest’s organizers and obtained access to the email account through which they were running the site. This student subsequently downloaded all of the account’s messages, and in some cases those emails found their way to the women whose pictures were contained therein. The Law Weekly has viewed the emails in question, several of which do indeed contain identifying information, including names.

How sweet it is.


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29 comments for “Because You Can’t Get Enough of AutoAdmit

  1. March 19, 2007 at 1:13 am

    “The Law Weekly has viewed the emails in question, several of which do indeed contain identifying information, including names.”

    And yet those guys will scream for days about the invasion of their privacy without ever gaining a single clue.

  2. Munlime
    March 19, 2007 at 2:03 am

    As a grad student gov’t leader – I keep checking on how many posts there are on Auto Admit about our law women, none so far, but I am dreading the day I have to take these misogynists on head on.

  3. March 19, 2007 at 2:50 am

    This was possible because a UVA Law student (who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of harassment by AutoAdmit members) deceived the “Top 14” contest’s organizers and obtained access to the email account through which they were running the site. This student subsequently downloaded all of the account’s messages[…]

    Anonymous or no, I’d like to buy that student a pony.

  4. Zil
    March 19, 2007 at 3:24 am

    I’m curious: how did Stanford suppress participation in this Auto Admit bullshit?

  5. Mark Nuckols
    March 19, 2007 at 3:58 am

    Well, yes you *can* get enough of Auto Admit. Sure, a lot of people who post at that side are toads, or worse. But I think you miss a few bigger aspects of what you see at AA, and there are other issues you completely misunderstand. First of all, bullying is a great national characteristic of America. Unfortunately, the internet allows bullies new ways to harass others. Second, law students overwhelming tend to be smug, certain of their views, strident, and this harassment rlated to AA is part of a larger picture of law students seeking to bully their perceived enemies, whether for ideological, gender or othe reasons. Funnily enough, when I was in law school, I would get hissed at in class by zealots of both left and right, depending on the position I was taking. My Russian girlfriend was called a “Russian mail order bride” by feminists in her school, because she disagreed with some sacred tenets of law school feminism. Law students are often people all to willing to substitute assaults on dignity for reasoned arguement. As for the professional reputations and prospects of these unfortunately harassed students, I find it interesting that none of these stories offer any comment from law firms themselves. I think this is just making mountains out of molehills. Finally, as for UVA’s Yee Old Honor Code, I recall a story a few years ago that an undergrad prof ran his class’s exams through software designed to detect plagiarism, and found that over half the class was basically writing out answers from an A exam from a prior year. Students in America generally have no respect for academic integrity, but that’s a different matter.

  6. March 19, 2007 at 3:59 am

    Interesting that not one of those oh-so-confident chaps who lectured us all about free speech has come on over to comment on this thread today. Feeling a bit worried about whether someone with access to their email server might feel free to out them the way those Va law students felt free to out those women, maybe?

  7. March 19, 2007 at 4:44 am

    No, more likely they’re bored. In my experience, misogynists are generally stupid, and thus have short attention spans. They can only hate one woman for so long.

  8. zuzu
    March 19, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Nuckols, you’ve already been banned because you’re unethical. So consider yourself banned again.

  9. March 19, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Oh shit, my fault for approving that comment. I forgot who he was. Feel free to delete.

  10. March 19, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Shorter He Who Has Been Banned Twice: “bullying is common in the US, therefore no one should try to do anything about it.” No word yet on HWHBBT’s views on giving up the fight against theft.

  11. March 19, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    I think the shorter version is more like “blah blah blah LOOK! A MONKEY!”

    Is the kind of e-mail spoofing the anonymous student did illegal yet? If not, one wonders when the e-mails will end up on the Web.

  12. res ipsa loquitur
    March 19, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Weird, but an opinion on this nightmare has shown up by none other than Elizabeth “Prozac Nation” Wurtzel in the pages of (weirder) The Wingnut Street Journal Editorial Page.

    I don’t have much to say about what she’s written, which is rather Peggy-Noonan-ish in tone. I was shocked — but not at all surprised, though — to discover that she’s landed at Yale Law School at the age of forty.

  13. March 19, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    interesting. I am new here. I was winding up to let loose on the Nuckols-head when I saw that his brand of “thought” is already out of bounds. He was managing to wink at the cowardly asymmetry of anonymously dealing hurtful rumors, to damage the reputation of another person without any chance of cross examination or repercussion. By that characteristic alone AA is a goddamned star chamber that no reputable law firm should ever access. And its perfectly clear why, as employers, these firms would not admit to using AA so nuckholes is being disingenuous. And then he went on to glibly make a molehill out of the manifest malignancy that all victims we have heard of are women. Bye Suckols. He paints a picture of fratricidal viciousness as the dominant culture of law school creatures…perhaps he is projecting. I have mended my opinions of lawyers lately and now I am to believe they really are sharks? nah. [hmm “fratricidal misses the point here doesn’t it? The other gendering of internecine attacks does not appear in my online dictionary…what a culture!]

    In fact, I have not yet had enough of AA because I don’t understand why a system that both male and female law students could use [or am I only making a reasonable assumption here?] none the less works primarily against the women…does software have patriarchal bias or just the users?

  14. Betsy
    March 19, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    However, more than one of the women whose pictures were posted to the “Top 14” site have taken matters into their own hands. Some of the women have been able to determine who was responsible for submitting pictures of them without their consent, and have confronted these students.

    This was possible because a UVA Law student (who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of harassment by AutoAdmit members) deceived the “Top 14” contest’s organizers and obtained access to the email account through which they were running the site. This student subsequently downloaded all of the account’s messages, and in some cases those emails found their way to the women whose pictures were contained therein. The Law Weekly has viewed the emails in question, several of which do indeed contain identifying information, including names.

    Forgive me if I sound vindictive, but I hope they do more than “confront” these students. I hope they sue and/or publish their names, so that students can see what snakes in the grass they go to school with.

    While it may be tempting to dismiss this kind of reaction as naive, not every law school is cutthroat

    One of my closest friends (a gay man) went to UVA law, and loved every single minute of it; he always said that there was nowhere else one should go to law school. He described it as fun, utterly non-competitive, and generally a laid-back, happy place. It’s clear, though, that this kind of thing can happen anywhere. There are always some jerks, and they will use the (assumed) anonymity of the internet to express some of their more odious tendencies.

  15. blondie
    March 20, 2007 at 9:51 am

    What the comments from Althouse (as to whether potential law firm employers would consider such comments as those stated at AutoAdmit) demonstrate is that she has little, if any, experience with real-world law firms or their hiring practices. I have long deemed her ability to “teach” prospective lawyers to be non-existent, and she proves me more correct with nearly every post on her inane weblog.

    Many, probably most, large law firms (the likely goal of students at “top” law schools) would be considered very conservative, if not downright old-fashioned, in their desire to avoid untoward publicity, particularly publicity involving sexual (Eww — the filth!) matters.

    By analogy, consider the parent at the end of his/her rope, dealing with squabbling siblings. That parent has reached the point where s/he doesn’t care who started it or who’s at fault. S/he just wants the squabbling to stop. Thus, both the innocent and the guilty suffer. Similarly, in this AutoAdmit sexual harassment, both the harassers and the victims get brushed with the taint of scandal.

    And make no mistake, you petty little harassers. If you are actually law students, and your law schools have sane codes of conduct, they would have anti-harassment policies, and your conduct would be in violation of such anti-harassment policies. Additionally, you may have been violating state stalking/harassment criminal laws. While a law firm may wish to steer clear of a victim in this brouhaha, it would be inviting a lawsuit to hire a proven harasser. You may think the internet is anonymous, but you’d be wrong.

  16. blondie
    March 20, 2007 at 10:11 am

    For example, here is Yale University’s:

    Statement on Sexual Harassment
    Sexual harassment is an affront to human dignity and fundamentally at odds with the values of Yale University. Because the University is committed to maintaining a community for study and work that is free from sexual harassment, the University will not tolerate any member of that community sexually harassing another.

    Sexual harassment is antithetical to academic values and to a work environment free from the fact or appearance of coercion. It is a violation of University policy and may result in serious disciplinary action. Sexual harassment consists of nonconsensual sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature on or off campus, when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing; or (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating or hostile academic or work environment. Sexual harassment may be found in a single episode, as well as in persistent behavior. Conduct that occurs in the process of application for admission to a program or selection for employment is covered by this policy, as well as conduct directed toward University students, faculty or staff members.

    http://www.yale.edu/equalopportunity/policies/index.html Students may find grievance procedures at: http://www.yale.edu/equalopportunity/policies/55400Yale.pdf

    I cannot imagine Yale is alone in this policy. So, if the commenters at AutoAdmit are actually law students, and if their names and addresses are in the hands of someone with the power to submit those names and addresses to their deans, I’d say they should be sitting in some cold sweat right about now.

  17. W
    March 20, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Why don’t you ever mention all of the men who are harrassed on autoadmit, as they far outnumber the women? And nice job believing a random email asserting that a firm contacted someone about this- it would be more persuasive if you had a statement from one of the firms or even one of the women, rather than a hearsay email comment. I can’t really expect more from you, as this site is just used to push an agenda.

  18. misguided janitor
    March 20, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Good for those students, and I’m glad things are working out with their employers.

    [CUTESY LITTLE LINK WITH REAL NAME OF AUTOADMIT VICTIM REDACTED. NICE TRY, MISGUIDED JANITOR. CONSIDER YOURSELF BANNED.]

  19. March 20, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    “Interesting that not one of those oh-so-confident chaps who lectured us all about free speech has come on over to comment on this thread today. Feeling a bit worried about whether someone with access to their email server might feel free to out them the way those Va law students felt free to out those women, maybe?”

    No, I think it has more to do with the fact that there is no way to get peoples’ identity from the info. on the t14 site…the guy who made the site posted that recently. It’s amazing how little these “journalists” understand about the internet…nothing will come of the AutoAdmit thing, and they’ll keep doing what they always do. Plus, even if you could get the identities of a few posters who submitted pictures of women, that does nothing to the many, many more who made comments and google bombed them. AutoAdmit is a fearsome beast and so far there isn’t a way to stop it- look at what they did to ReputationDefender. Even after RD going to the media and on TV news, AutoAdmit refused to remove even a single thread, starting posting obnoxious comments about RD, and even issued a challenge, posted on the front page of the AutoAdmit website. If the front page of the Washington Post or threats of getting sued doesn’t sway them, neither will a misinformed UVA “journalist,” or a stupid feminist blog.

  20. March 20, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    Shorter XOXO: “You guys are totally stupid! AutoAdmit is powerful! We have power, for real! POWER!”

    And then he walks upstairs from th basement and asks his mom to make him a grilled cheese sandwich so he can sustain himself while googling “free porn.”

  21. zuzu
    March 20, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    I actually heard some attorneys today talking about AutoAdmit and what a shitty thing they’ve done to these students.

  22. x
    March 21, 2007 at 12:11 am

    So Jill, if they dont have power, then why are these stupid girls so worked up about them?

  23. Cerberus
    March 21, 2007 at 2:09 am

    I thank all our fine friends from the he-man women hater’s club to once again demonstrate why their unique brand of life philosophy is worthy of constant reflection and respect and moreso for their fine showing of exactly why over-priveledged males are a bad thing for societies.

    Thank you gentlemen, you are too kind.

    Seriously, it’s like a replay. I am mighty, I swear I’m mighty, I control the world. And when they can’t they think well at least they can control those “weaker” than them.

    Do they really think that people are going to read their post and walk away with any other feeling that this is a pathetic bully who can’t deal with a universe that doesn’t care three tugs on a dead dog about them?

    Enough is enough. To quote Bill Hicks: “Nuh. You’re wrong, get over it.”

    Buh, buh, Bill, if I don’t have a big dick, then why are girls talking about me?

    Cause tiny, you are a damaging useless thing. They talk about garbage too. They talk about parasites. They talk about viruses. These things are all to be removed and none of them are worthy of respect or recognition.

    For instance, if I got a list of all of your real names and addresses and periodically went to each of your homes and burned them to the ground, you’d probably wouldn’t consider me hot shit. I doubt you’d be talking about how powerful I was and how scared of me you are.

    You’d call the fucking cops and if I was still stupid enough to laugh at the flames and tell you to call me daddy, I’d rather well deserve to get arrested and raped with a nightstick.

    In case that was too obscure for your tiny brains. You’re me, the arson, and you’re insulting the owners of the house while the sirens are going off.

    [DELETED — ed.]

  24. joe
    March 22, 2007 at 12:16 am

    First of all, I think a lot of what goes on here is pretty infantile and even loathesome. However, I also felt the Washington Post etc stories were completely riddled with holes, as I am pretty sure no law firm is going to reject a YLS student because someone somewhere wrote something nasty about him or her on the internet. One of the blogs that picked up this “story” is feministe (feministe.us/blog), where one of the co-proprieters, along with with a NYU 1L, wrote this charming comment: “What kills me is this whole gprestigeh obsession when they had to stretch the Top 10 to the gT14 so the asswipes at the school ranked at #14 could participate and feel special.” As a graduate of GULC, I felt “asswipes” was an undeservedly harsh description of GULC students, and I thought the argument that there is only a “top 10” of law schools illogical. Anyway, I wrote to “feministe,” explaining that in fact if you look at major law firm recruitment schedules, for example, they do tend to visit 12 to 14 of the same top 14 schools, plus some local and regional law schools. Etc etc. Most of you should understand the reasoning behind identifying a cohort of 14 national law schools rather than a (purely arbitrary) ten. So the feministe bloggers tell me I’m an asswipe and that everyone in the profession knows there are really only ten top law schools, and the whole notion of a top 14 law schools is an invention of asswipes at GULC whoi want to feel special. Not surprisingly, they refuse to allow me to rebut this argument on their website. Eh, it’s a trivial enough thing, but I find it emblematic of the zealotry and smugness of law students like this NYU 1L, accompanied by an unwillingess to listen to reason or to allow differing opinions.

  25. March 22, 2007 at 7:42 am

    So Jill, if they dont have power, then why are these stupid girls so worked up about them?

    Because they’re creepy stalkers, and because they’ve made our personal information visible to the entire internets, including future employers.

    It doesn’t take “power” to do that. It takes having an internet connection and being an anti-social asshole.

  26. March 22, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Also, Joe who is in moderation but who I’m sure is reading this, (a) grow up, and (b) if you went to Georgetown law school, why are you this dense?

    Zuzu did not call all GULC students asswipes. She called the ones posting on the message board asswipes.

    Also, your email exchange with Zuzu — which you attempted to post on this site without her permission — has pretty much nothing to do with me, although you’re welcome to think that it has something to do with some NYU 1L that you keep referencing (clue: I’m not a 1L).

    If I were Zuzu, I’d actually be tempted to post your email exchange, if only to demonstrate how far gone you are. Frankly, you came across as incredibly bizarre and possibly slightly disturbed. And you keep coming here, leaving ridiculous comments which you know are never going to get approved.

    This is not brain surgery. Zuzu did not call you or any other GULC students asswipes, except the ones who post on that board. Because you’ve been incredibly rude and stupid in trying to post your email exchange with her, she is not going to let your comments through on her post. So it is probably not worth your time to keep leaving them, even under multiple different names and email addresses.

  27. zuzu
    March 22, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Hi, Mark!

    Anyway, I wrote to “feministe,” explaining that in fact if you look at major law firm recruitment schedules, for example, they do tend to visit 12 to 14 of the same top 14 schools, plus some local and regional law schools. Etc etc. Most of you should understand the reasoning behind identifying a cohort of 14 national law schools rather than a (purely arbitrary) ten. So the feministe bloggers tell me I’m an asswipe and that everyone in the profession knows there are really only ten top law schools, and the whole notion of a top 14 law schools is an invention of asswipes at GULC whoi want to feel special.

    So how come nobody’s ever heard of it outside AutoAdmit.

    I can see why you left the law and are now trying to become an arms dealer or something. Coherent argument, backed up by evidence, really isn’t your strong point.

    Asswipe.

  28. March 22, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    The fact here is these idiots on AA thnk thee are no consequences to their actions.

    They seem to be ignoring all the news stories about how it is becoming standard practice for HR departments to google the internet about potential employees, and that it has been the case at some high-dollar employers that the potential candidate submit the screennames under which they have posted to bulletin boards or blogs. ANd because that is done as part of the hiring process, decption in the matter is grounds for termination.

    Termination for cause.

    ANd “termination for cause” (even if the “cause” is not specified) is one of the things that a former employer *can* lgally tell about a former employee if a prospective future employer asks to verify employment.

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