Sex, Dirty Loos, and a Rat in the Canteen

August 24- The newspaper is still less than a year old, but it is already making a difference.

The DU Beat, an independent student newspaper begun in December 2007 at Delhi University in India, has the school’s students and staffers talking with a range of innovative, in-your-face content. The most popular offering: “Ask Sex Amma,” a regular sex and health column. Another positive initiative: the paper’s “Dirty Loo contest” exposing especially unsavory school restroom facilities, leading to renovations.

The popularity of the eight-page weekly publishing 2,500 copies, only recently in color, is growing and its short-term impact can even be described as mouthwatering. According to the paper’s student editor, “Our stories get a good response. There was one story that I did on the unhygienic conditions in college canteens in Delhi University, complete with a photograph of a rat sitting on a plate in a canteen’s kitchen. That created a huge uproar and it landed me in a soup . . . the good thing however was, after that the conditions in the canteens have improved.”

In the editor’s words, the paper can be summed up as “self generated, non-opinionated and embodying freedom of expression.” Sounds like a good start to me.

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