University of California Santa Cruz employee was recently forced to defend herself after an unfortunate copy-and paste incident that left her facing accusations of pushing Nazi propaganda.
UCSC Graduate Student Adviser Emelye Neff was accused of slipping white supremacist hidden messages into an email to graduate students of UCSC’s Baskin School of Engineering. In November, Neff sent an email to students about an upcoming deadline. The email subject read “[allgrads] 14 of about 88 *PLEASE NOTE THE UPCOMING UNIVERSITY DEADLINE*.”
The numbers 14 and 88 are often referenced by white supremacists and neo-nazis to identify one another, with 14 being a reference to the “14 words” slogan used by white supremacists, and 88 referring to “h” as the 8th letter of the alphabet and thus being an abbreviation for “Heil Hitler.”
After receiving the email, one student took to the university Facebook group proclaiming that “someone sending emails using the BSOE graduate student affairs email account has some explaining to do,” and insisting that the numbers “can’t be a simple coincidence.”
“Someone is trying to throw in Nazi slogans into the email subject line,” insisted the student.
While some students commenting on the post dismissed the numbers as having a more likely explanation than nazism, others maintained that it should be treated as promotion of nazi ideology by a university employee using university resources.
Later, the student updated his post, saying that Neff had reached out to him directly to apologize, and acknowledging that the appearance of the numbers that startled the student was, in fact, an “unfortunate and very unlikely coincidence of events, which occurred by accident.”
In defense against accusations that she was using university resources to distribute nazi dog whistles, Neff sent a follow-up email offering her “sincere apologies for the numbers accidentally included in the subject line of the announcement.”
Neff explained that the numbers were a result of searching for and then copying an old email.
“For message continuity, I had searched for previous announcements in our soegrad [sic] inbox with the title “university deadline” and copy-pasted the content of an older email to a new email and inadvertently included the email search count in the subject line,” Neff explained.
“The email search count was located just about the email message in Gmail and was copied along with the subject line of the older email by accident (the email search count is the text circled in blue in the picture attached to this email for your review). In this unfortunate instance, I was unable to catch the error in time to correct it before it was sent out to students.”
“I am so very sorry for any added confusion, anxiety, or inconvenience my error caused you,” Neff concluded before inviting any students with remaining concerns to contact her personally.