An AMS exec tweeted a screenshot of a sexist email she received Wednesday evening, following UBC’s announcement that a majority of classes would remain online until February 7.
The sender — whose email address VP Academic and University Affairs Eshana Bhangu blocked out in a tweet about the incident — called Bhangu misogynistic slurs several times and blamed her for UBC’s extension of online classes from January 24 to February 7. The AMS had no authority over this decision.
“I’ve always recognized & communicated that there are diverse student views about face to face instruction. If you disagree with a decision made by @UBC, there are better ways to voice your concern than sending me vile emails. I can also buy you a dictionary,” Bhangu tweeted, along with a screenshot of the email Wednesday evening.
I’ve always recognized & communicated that there are diverse student views about face to face instruction. If you disagree with a decision made by @UBC, there are better ways to voice your concern than sending me vile emails. I can also buy you a dictionary.— Eshana Bhangu (@eshanabhangu) January 12, 2022
*graphic language* pic.twitter.com/rYWOkXrZAt
Bhangu told The Ubyssey that this wasn’t the first time she had received angry emails from individuals.
“In all honesty, and unfortunately, [my reaction] was like, ‘Another one?’” she said.
“The criticism was just full of outright misogyny, sexism and to be honest, insinuations that the men whose names have been blurred … would never listen to me unless I was performing sexual favours for them.”
Bhangu said that past emails she has received from this particular individual and others have also been “uncomfortable and very sexist and unpleasant” to read, but that the language in Wednesday’s email was “on the more vulgar and profane end of it.”
She added that she is “very grateful” for the support she has received from UBC students, faculty and administrators.
According to a 2019 Research & Politics paper, high-profile women politicians are more likely to receive “uncivil” messages on social media than male politicians in Canada.
Bhangu said, to her knowledge, that she is the only AMS executive who identifies as a woman who has recently received these kinds of emails.
“I would chalk it up to just because of my role being to fight for students to the university. Sometimes that constitutes some policies that there's a diversity of views on,” she said.
Bhangu was notably at the forefront of the AMS’s advocacy over the summer for stricter mask and vaccine policies on campus, along with AMS President Cole Evans. She also was involved in the AMS’s push for online exams in December amid the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across BC.
On why she decided to share this particular email on Twitter, Bhangu said that it came down to challenging her tendency to brush off these kinds of comments.
“That just ends up normalizing the kind of misogynist comments that you get … I'm sure that there are other people out there who are receiving stuff like this and worse,” she said.
Bhangu also made it clear that she is still open to hearing student concerns.
“I know that [online classes are] not ideal … [It’s] literally my duty to serve students. So they should be sending me their concerns if they have any.”