Boston University Student Criticizes Student Paper for Joking About Rape, Assault in Crime Log

A Boston University student is calling out the campus crime log section of The Daily Free Press, BU’s student newspaper, for “regularly [making] light of crimes like rape, sexual harassment, and assault by prefacing the paragraph-long descriptions of the incidents with jokey, pun-ridden titles.” 

Three examples shared by the anonymous BU student in a post for online outlet xoJane:

“A man tried to break into a female BU student’s on-campus dorm via her balcony. The classy title of this traumatizing incident that could have ended in theft/rape/kidnapping/murder? ‘Where for art thou, creepy dude?’

A man was beaten to the ground and had his head stomped on until he was unconscious and bleeding. ‘Stomp the yard.’ I am sure the victim and his family are touched by this sweet, concerned commentary on his life-threatening injuries in the form of a Ne-Yo movie.

A female BU student was domestically abused and choked by her boyfriend. ‘Choked up.’

According to the student, these headlines “not only completely downplay the severity of the incidents but in some cases even make fun of the victims.”

Among the victims being mocked: the student writer. The headline of her Free Press critique, all caps: “IT HAPPENED TO ME: I WAS RAPED AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY AND THE STUDENT NEWSPAPER MADE A JOKE OF IT.”

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Soon after the student was sexually assaulted — an event which she said “ruined my psychological state for the rest of the year, strained my relationships and student group commitments, and drove down my permanent college GPA” — she learned the reported incident had been published in the Free Press campus crime log.

In her words:

“I will not write it out or link to it because I want to remain anonymous and more importantly I refuse to give it the dignity of being repeated. The only description of the title that I will give, so as to clue you in on just how tasteless it is, is that it is a pun involving a popular rap song that describes the sexual appeal of a woman’s body. So, the angle is how rape-able I was? How enticing I must have been? How much the man wanted me? I felt less-than-human. The day in my life that I was sexually assaulted marked a before-and-after divider in how I felt about myself as a human being and as a woman, and this thoughtless, demeaning description of it by somebody who is a fellow student and supposed ‘journalist’ minimized it to a fucking RAP PUN. This was over a year and a half ago, and I am still livid.”

Alex Nawar, the chairman of the paper’s board of directors, immediately issued a public apology for what he confirms are “callous sub-headlines making light of serious issues and inadvertently exploiting victims of crime for humor.”

According to Nawar, some archived headlines are already being changed and new editorial policies and staff training will be implemented.

As he writes, “Going forward, the Free Press will publish Crime Logs with only serious headlines, in an effort to keep our student population aware of criminal activity and to give victims their due respect. We are updating past sub-headlines to reflect our new standards. In addition to changing Crime Logs, we plan to begin mandatory sensitivity training for new editors at the start of each semester.”

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Roughly two years ago, the Free Press also earned criticism and outside media attention for displaying sexual insensitivity. As I previously posted, in spring 2011, the paper published an April Fools’ Day issue that included spoof stories on Cinderella’s alleged involvement in a prostitution ring, BU frat brothers slipping Alice in Wonderland LSD, and the dwarves from Snow White participating in a group rape of a female BU student.

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As the headline of a Boston community news site story asked at the time, “It’s just not April Fools’ Day without some Disney rape, murder, and prostitution jokes, eh?”

Related

Boston’s Daily Free Press Publishes April Fools’ Day Stories on Cinderella Prostitution, Dwarf Gang Rape

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