Author of Controversial E-mail Apologizes

Jeff Cicero '06

To The Colgate Community:

Most of you who read this article have no idea who I am. My name is Jeff Cicero, Class of 2006. I am the author of a satirical e-mail that has been recently circulated around – and possibly beyond – campus. I am fully responsible for the recent tension and feeling of unrest on campus as a result of this letter. I want to make things right again. I never wanted anyone to feel offended as a result of what I wrote. And I want this campus to know that I am deeply saddened that my thoughtlessness and passion manifested themselves in such an ugly manner. Please, if you read nothing else in this article then read this: I am truly, sincerely sorry for the offense my letter has caused to the members of this community.

I want to apologize to the student body and to Colgate University. I am shocked and remorseful that what I wrote has caused a large disturbance on our campus. My letter was a satire reflecting my passion on the issue of Greek House acquisitions. I know the campus is sick of the issue, and I never intended for this letter to be circulated. I sent it to some friends of mine who felt similarly about the heavy authority of the administration because they knew who I was and what my intentions were. I also submitted the letter to my theater company for possible inclusion as a satirical skit. The letter was rejected and my colleagues helped me realize that my analogy was a very poorly chosen one. After rehearsal, I took and destroyed all printed copies of my letter.

In no way was my letter designed to target or attack any specific person or student group on this campus. The names I referenced, without their permission, I did so only because they serve as public figures for their respective organizations. I did not nor do I have any ill-will towards them. I was only trying to express myself through satire. I am very sorry that I have offended them.

As soon as I realized what kind of damage my satire would have if taken out of context, I immediately e-mailed my friends and demanded that everyone contain and delete my e-mail. As soon as I found out that what I had written was circulated outside of my friends, I immediately came forward to the administration to claim responsibility for my actions. You may have heard from President Chopp at the President’s Dinner on Wednesday April 20th that I was ‘caught’ as the result of an investigation. This is untrue.

I did not understand the damage my letter caused, and I am still not certain how widely circulated it is on campus. But what I am certain of is how I sincerely regret offending anyone who felt hurt, sad, angry or uncomfortable as a result of reading it. I believe that my satire was callous and insensitive. I am truly sorry for my lapse of judgment in choosing my subject matter. I could have used the term “Colgate Students” instead of “minority students” and accomplished the same point. By referencing students of color, I realize that I unwittingly created a controversial avenue which could be misinterpreted. It was my conviction that my friends, who were the only intended recipients of the e-mail, would understand that in no way was I attempting to target or undermine the diversity of ethnic life on our campus. I was only trying to apply a current situation, in jest, towards the administration’s authority in the form of a lampoon.

It was wrong for me to equate students of color with Greek Life students; there are differences that I did not fully grasp the significance of when I drafted that letter. I am truly sorry for my tasteless farce; I wish I had slept on the idea instead of thoughtlessly forwarding it to my friends, because I would have then realized the danger my letter presented in causing an emotional disturbance.

The particulars of my letter are nothing short of absurd, and it was my hope that the audience of such a letter would acknowledge the absurdity as being inherent to a satirical lampoon. At no point was I trying to create controversy or ignite passions over the topic of race. I am deeply regretful for having done so. I will forever remember the shame I bear now. I hope that every member of this campus understands that Colgate, and its students, embrace diversity, and I hope everyone will look past the ignorance of one thoughtless member of the community. I am absolutely responsible for what has happened and I am sorry. I am so sorry I have hurt some of you. I am so sorry I have caused some of you to feel less safe or comfortable. I am incredibly sorry that I have made our student life take a step back on an issue like diversity. I earnestly hope you will join me in trying to move forward again.

Sincerely,Jeff Cicero ’06