Student Newspaper Drops ‘He Said/She Said’ Column After Harassment Charge

The Fairfield Mirror has agreed to permanently drop its provocative “He Said/She Said” feature more than two months after Fairfield University students filed harassment charges against the newspaper for publishing a controversial “He Said” column that some felt “promot[ed] rape and violence against women.”

The newspaper’s senior executive board announced in a public letter released earlier this week that the decision was reached through mediation with the students who brought the charges against the paper (the first time such a charge has been levied against an organization instead of an individual at FU).  Part of the exec. board letter:

For over two months now, a debate has overtaken the campus: was the Mirror wrong for running the controversial ‘He Said’ column on Sept. 30?  That question, brought about by a motivated, brave and offended group of students, was not a difficult one to answer.  It was a mistake.  The language was too harsh and while the intention was never to offend and was never to even come close to referencing rape, it did. . . . We learned from the mediation and from internal discussions that the character and limitations of ‘He Said/She Said’ had become the problem.  It was not Surette [the writer of the offending column] or any other writers, but the character who was stuck inside the box of ‘He Said,’ expected to portray stereotypes instead of erase and challenge them.  That is why ‘He Said/She Said’ has been discontinued. It was not a barter deal, although the harassment charges were lifted.  The charges were lifted instead because they were brought about to make the Mirror listen. Once the charges served their purpose, that is, to bring both parties together, it was sensible to both sides to have the charges dropped.”

The paper’s editor in chief stated separately that staffers had considered the feature ripe for cancellation during the entire semester, even prior to the controversy.  As he said about the sit-down with the students who pressed the charges: “It was difficult with the rumors, media attention and other distractions to solve the situation. But when we sat down together and explained each of our sides and simply talked over the problem, we realized we had many of the same goals in common.  We feel that we can continue to provide an edgy, entertaining and humorous column . . . but agree that it is a good time to eliminate the stereotypes and ‘box’ effect that has limited the writers of the ‘He Said/She Said’ columns in the past.”

Prior to mediation, the fight surrounding the column had grown ugly- including a memo issued by a high-level administrator warning that the university’s financial support of the newspaper had become “null and void” [underlined in memo for emphasis] in the wake of the column’s publication.  Fortunately, school officials backed down from that overreaction.

One Response to “Student Newspaper Drops ‘He Said/She Said’ Column After Harassment Charge”
  1. amcclain89 says:

    Whatever happened to pushing the envelope..after all this is a college newspaper…I guess it goes to show the power of words..