Boston University, Sexual Assault, and Missing the Point

You may or may not have heard by now that Boston University and sexual assault have been in the news together quite a bit lately after the two high-profile cases against members of their men’s hockey team. The last thing that the university needed was more negative attention that was in any way related to rape or sexual assault.

Which is why it is baffling that their student newspaper, the Daily Free Press, thought it would be a good idea to run a “rape spoof” in their April Fool’s Day edition. Forgetting for a minute the recent history of the university and sexual assault allegations, I still fail to see anything even remotely funny about this piece. Maybe it’s just be, but things like:

The female victim, described as the “fairest of them all,” reported to have been roofied after drinking an appletini at the Beta Rho omega fraternity party , according to Captain Robert Hook of the BU Police Department.

The girl with raven black hair and bright red lips, Hook said, woke up wearing no clothes with seven BRO dwarves laying naked in bed with her. She called BUPD immediately and was sent to the Far Far Away hospital in Never Ever land.

“BRO has bro0ed itself out,” said Gaston, the Chairman of the IFC. “No one drinks like the BROs, no one shoots like the BROs and definitely no one should rape like the BROs”

The fraternity is known for its rousing parties where the “cocktails flow freely and bitches are easy,” according to a BU student who wishes to remain anonymous.”

The CGSC is calling for a university-wide analysis of underage drinking on campus and the sterilization of all BU males.

“I want our women to be safe and I want our appletinis to be drug-free,” Pocahontas said. “But most of all I want to be able to party without worrying about being gang-banged by a bunch of BROs.”

do not strike me as remotely funny. It could just be my feminist lack of humor, of course. But luckily, a lot of people agreed with me, and the paper tweeted an apology with the promise of a formal apology to come. That apology was published. The paper acknowledged:

While apologies and words may seem insignificant to the wider population reading our paper, our sentiments are sincere. We did not publish any of the stories to offend or negate the immense progress BU has made regarding issues of sexual assault. However, we did. We aggrieved many of you with our insensitivity; we exasperated many of you with our unintentional perpetuation of “BU rape culture” that we have condemned in previous editorials. We were faced with some decisions and we made the wrong calls. Any fury or wrath the student body wishes to unleash will not be refuted or denied.

It was also announced that the Editor-in-Chief of the paper, Chelsea Diana, would be stepping down. I wasn’t sure whether or not that was the right decision when I first heard the news. She’s a student and this is a learning opportunity for her. It is definitely a “real world” example of the kind of power and responsibility you take on when you get into the field of journalism. But then she released her own public apology, in an article for the Boston Globe that likens to rape spoof to a “sophomoric mistake.” Says Chelsea,

In the last few days I have been rightly criticized for publishing a satirical “April Fools” newspaper that mocked sexual assault at a time when Boston University is working hard to expunge the rape culture that pervades our campus. I apologized, I made amends with BU student groups, and I resigned as editor-in-chief of The Daily Free Press, the independent student newspaper that I have come to love and respect over the past two years.

And in reading this, I have to wonder if maybe stepping down was the right decision. Because when I read this statement, I see someone that missed much of the point of what the outrage was about. If Chelsea thinks that her only mistake was “mocking sexual assault at a time when Boston University is working hard to expunge the rape culture that pervades [their] campus,” then she hasn’t really listened to what anyone has said. The bigger mistake was that she mocked sexual assault AT ALL.

Taken in context, this piece was supremely idiotic. When there has been so much press about rape culture at BU, something like this was the last thing the school needed. But even looked at without context, the piece is just as idiotic. Anyone who thinks that it’s a good idea to publish something that makes light of rape and sexual assault, especially on a college campus when the numbers for these crimes are higher than in the general population, probably isn’t ready to be the Editor-in-Chief of a paper.

I just hope that the entire message has been heard loudly and clearly. Mocking, making light of, or joking about sexual assault is not funny in any context.




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