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College adviser accused of using 'Nazi slogans' — the numbers 14 and 88 — in email. Really. And adviser apologizes profusely for mishap.


'I am so very sorry for any added confusion, anxiety, or inconvenience my error caused you'

Image source: Campus Reform, used by permission

A University of California, Santa Cruz, graduate student adviser was accused of placing "Nazi slogans" in an email — part of a phrase that included the numbers 14 and 88 — and the adviser was apologetic for what amounted to a big misunderstanding, once again stemming from students jumping to conclusions before all the facts were in.

What happened?

The adviser in November sent an email reminder to graduate students, Campus Reform reported, adding that the email's subject line read, "[allgrads] 14 of about 88 *PLEASE NOTE THE UPCOMING UNIVERSITY DEADLINE*."

The outlet noted that white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been known to identify each other with the numbers 14 and 88.

The number 14 can be a reference to "14 words," which the Anti-Defamation League says is a reference to the "most popular white supremacist slogan in the world: 'We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.'"

As for the number 88, the ADL says it's "a white supremacist numerical code for 'Heil Hitler.' H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler. One of the most common white supremacist symbols, 88 is used throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis. One can find it as a tattoo or graphic symbol; as part of the name of a group, publication or website; or as part of a screen name or e-mail address. It is even sometimes used as a greeting or sign-off (particularly in messages on social networking websites)."

One student doesn't like the look of things

Campus Reform said that one student who received the email hopped on the university Facebook group and said "someone sending emails using the BSOE graduate student affairs email account has some explaining to do" and that the numbers 14 and 88 in the phrase "can't be a simple coincidence."

"Someone is trying to throw in Nazi slogans into the email subject line," the student added, according to the outlet.

Some students dismissed the claim, saying the appearance of the numbers 14 and 88 in the email must be the result of something other than Nazism, Campus Reform said, adding that others were convinced Nazi promotion was afoot.


The outlet said the accusing student later updated his post, saying the apologetic adviser reached out and said it was an "unfortunate and very unlikely coincidence of events, which occurred by accident."

The adviser then sent a follow-up email offering "sincere apologies for the numbers accidentally included in the subject line of the announcement" which occurred because of a search for old email, Campus Reform said.

"For message continuity, I had searched for previous announcements in our ... 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," the adviser wrote in a follow-up email, the outlet said.

"In this unfortunate instance, I was unable to catch the error in time to correct it before it was sent out to students," the adviser added, Campus Reform said. "I am so very sorry for any added confusion, anxiety, or inconvenience my error caused you."

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