Daily Tar Heel Runs Historic Front-Page Editorial Calling for Sexual Assault Reform

The Daily Tar Heel ran a special editorial across yesterday’s entire front page, calling for a “complete overhaul” in the way rape cases are handled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other schools nationwide.  The DTH timed the editorial– and the outsized attention it would undoubtedly provoke– to coincide with the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

As the editorial’s start declares, “Rape is a violent crime.  At UNC and colleges across the country, it is treated as an infraction.  Something so fundamentally wrong demands a principled solution.  This means undertaking a complete overhaul of the way the University deals with cases of rape.  And it means forgetting for a moment the problematic requirements of federal guidelines, and instead creating a system that realizes the university’s responsibility to protect its students.  A culture of false justice lies at the heart of a broken system, and should be replaced with a focus on: 1. Support for survivors; 2. Education for all students on the consequences of rape; [and] 3. Deference in the pursuit of justice to trained law enforcement.”


In a behind-the-scenes blog post, headlined “Why a Front-Page Editorial?”, DTH editor-in-chief Andy Thomason explained “every once in a while it seems appropriate to move an opinion of great relevance and importance to the front page. . . . The controversy surrounding sexual assault has dominated our pages for months.  The first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month seemed an opportune time to release the conclusion of a discussion had in meetings of the editorial board for many weeks: how to most effectively and honestly fix a system that is the subject of two federal investigations.  Especially at a time when the university is eagerly soliciting ideas, we wanted to make sure our voice was heard.”


In a separate email interview with Jim Romenesko, Thomason brought up the other unofficial holiday falling on the editorial publication date: “We have historically resisted the April Fools prank issue because we want to give our readers the news they expect every day, and don’t want to risk squandering that trust with one day of indulgence.”

The paper recently put together a special online page attempting to account for coverage of sexual assault incidents and issues throughout the student press.



120 Years Old, 120-Point Font: Quick Tales from 2 Student Newspapers (Daily Tar Heel, Indiana Daily Student)

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