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Activist wins Loyola Digital Ethics award

Activist wins Loyola Digital Ethics award

Taylor Dumpson

The Center for Digital Ethics and Policy (CDEP) at Loyola’s School of Communication has awarded its inaugural Digital Ethics Award to Taylor Dumpson. The Award will be given out on November 7th during the center’s 9th Annual Symposium on Digital Ethics. With the award, the center wants to recognize individuals who have displayed ethical behavior that has contributed to the promotion of social justice in digital communities. 

The award will be handed out by Chicago-based data scientist and activist Lorena Mesa. The award ceremony will be preceded by a panel discussion on how to deal with extreme speech online. Both events are open and free to the public, but reservations are required.

In April 2017, Dumpson was the first black woman elected to serve as student government president at American University. Consequently, she became the victim of a racially-based harassment campaign, both on campus and online. The campaign intensified after Andrew Anglin, founder and publisher of the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, called for a troll storm against Dumpson.

After his identity had been uncovered, one of Anglin’s followers who had partaken in the harassment became one of three defendants sued by Dumpson. The parties settled, and as part of the settlement, Dumpson required the man to contribute to the fight against online hate. Among other things, he had to apologize to Dumpson, undergo counseling and anti-hate training, and complete coursework and community service related to issues of race and gender.

In an interview with CNN, Dumpson said about this:  "Even though you're a white supremacist, even though you're a neo-Nazi, even though you think like this, I don't think you're always going to think like that…I don't think that it has to be that way."

By using the court system as a tool to combat online hate, Dumpson’s case has set an important precedent to sue online harassers for interfering with the right to get an education. By spending part of her settlement on providing the perpetrator with a path to redemption, Dumpson and her legal team provided an important restorative justice model for others to follow. 

In addition to the award ceremony and preceding panel, the Center is hosting a research colloquium during which six pairs of researchers will present research papers to each other in a small setting. This gathering is open only to Loyola faculty and graduate students. Those interested in attending this part of the conference should email CDEP director Bastiaan Vanacker (bvanacker@luc.edu) directly. Those interested in the award ceremony and/or panel can register here. For more information about the 9th Annual Symposium on Digital Ethics, please visit the CDEP’s web site.