[Update 4/3/12] Daily Free Press Editor-in-Chief Chelsea Diana has resigned, according to a letter from the paper's Board of Directors published this morning. Today's DFP staff editorial also extended apologies to the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism as well as BU's Greek Life community. ---In the April Fools Day issue of Boston University’s Daily Free Press: sorority girls get roofied and raped, one female student gets “gang banged” by an entire fraternity, and a hockey player gets arrested for walking around with his pants down.The stories are fictional, but the whole thing reads like a tasteless, nightmare version of the college paper’s actual crime log -- as BU has been in the news recently for hockey players being accused of rape. All of the characters and author pen names were bizarrely Disney themed, and the paper was re-branded as “The Disney Free Press.”
Daily Free Press April Fools 2012
“The girl with raven black hair and bright red lips woke up wearing no clothes with seven BRO dwarves laying naked in bed with her,” reads the cover story, about a female student being “drugged and gang-banged” by “seven frat dwarves” in an “Allston Village cabin.” A representative of the frat dwarves later says: "No one drinks like the BROs, no one shoots like the BROs and definitely no one rapes like the BROs."WTF?A social media storm ensued this afternoon, followed by local and national media attention.Michelle Weiser, a BU senior, gender equality activist, and one of the founders of the Occupy Boston Women’s Caucus, called the articles “disgusting.”“It’s graphic and awful,” said Weiser. “On every page there’s a joke about sexual assault. Literally on every single page. How can you not notice it? How can you not think this is disgusting?”Rape culture has been a popular conversation at BU as of late, as BU feminists call for the university to focus on the conversation more intently. In February, the University's Dean of Students met with students in the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism for a conversation regarding rape culture that was streamed live online.
“These are things that are happening in real life,” said Weiser. “There’s a fine art of satire, but you have to actually understand what you’re talking about to call it satire.”
Just last week, Weiser and other BU activists sat down with Daily Free Press Campus Editor Steph Solis for an hour-long discussion regarding rape culture at BU.“They haven’t had the best traffic rate with accuracy,” said Weiser. “So we had a conversation with them about rape culture and why what they print makes an impact.”
And just Friday night, the BU Feminist Collective hosted a “Take Back the Night” demonstration -- a rally to raise
awareness of sexual violence on campus and off.
To an extent, perhaps the passionate student response on social media would not have occurred without all of this recent relentless feminist activism at BU.But with so much anti-rape-culture action at BU lately, how could the Daily Free Press have possibly published such a mindless issue?
More than anything, today's DFP proves how deeply embedded rape culture exists on the BU campus and universities everywhere, and the degree to which BU students are still painfully unaware of it -- including the Daily Free Press editors. It is exactly what BU and the CGSA have been fighting to counteract; exactly the reason why actions like Take Back the Night exist at all. If anything, today's fiasco proves much work the BU community has left to do. The Daily Free Press offered an apology via Twitter this afternoon, and
at 6 p.m. posted a more lengthy letter from the editor to their website.
“[An apology] is clearly not enough," said Weiser. "They’ve published
things that are triggering, making fun of rape culture, victim blaming,
slut shaming. I don’t see how any apology can prove that they understand
any of that. This proves that they don’t understand. They don’t get it.
They’re going for a cheap laugh, a quick punch, a quick joke . . . They
can offer an apology, but one letter doesn’t change a culture. It’s
out, it’s in print. They already didn’t have much credibility in my mind
and this just blew them out the window.”