In an attempt to pull a harmless prank, Boston University's independently run student newspaper, The Daily Free Press, seriously offended the student body and the university's administration when they printed and distributed a joke version of the daily paper.
Like many college newspapers nationwide, The Daily Free Press creates an annual April Fools' edition to entertain the student body but this year, they may have gone too far. Monday's edition of the newspaper featured a story about "seven frat dwarves" that were arrested for raping a female student after slipping drugs into her drink. The female student was portrayed as Snow White in a distasteful homage to the Disney cartoon.
The insensitive joke spurred outrage on campus, and the chairwoman of the newspaper's board of directors asked sophomore Chelsea Diana to resign from her post as editor-in-chief and president of the board of directors. "In making the ultimate decision to run many of the articles, however well-intentioned, fictional or joking they may have been, Editor-in-Chief Chelsea Diana in no way perpetuated our values as an organization," Chairwoman Annie Ropeik wrote in yesterday's issue of the Daily Free Press.
Diana has agreed to resign, and issued a public apology expressing that she regrets the major setback that Monday's issue may have created for many organizations working to educate people and prevent sexual assault.
"We understand that these serious issues should not have been characterized as joking matters. The BU community has been making great strides to raise awareness about rape culture and prevent sexual assault on and off campus. A number of organizations, including the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism, Student Union and Greek Life, have worked tirelessly this semester to build a safer community. It was inexcusable of us to publish this issue and [jeopardize] the progress [of] these organizations," Diana wrote.
In a meeting on Monday night, Boston University’s Student Union gathered to discuss the controversial situation, and expressed that the students involved in the so-called prank should be held accountable. According to the Daily Free Press, Student Union President senior Howard Male said that he thinks “the general consensus amongst the representatives involved [is] shock, dismay and disappointment that we as students are not treating each other with respect or with sensitivity as it relates to individuals who may be impacted or who have had sexual assault or misconduct touch their lives in some way.”
Union members also voiced concerns that the incident reflects badly on the university, even though the newspaper is independently run. “If you were the parent of a student who has recently been admitted to this university, and this is the time that you come and visit this university, and this is what you see, would you be inclined to send your student to this school?” asked sophomore Dexter McCoy.
Following the controversy and Diana's resignation, news editor and editor-in-chief elect junior Stephanie Solis will take over for Diana.