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Campus Newspaper Sorry For Offensive Headlines, Plans Sensitivity Training

The Daily Free Press, the independent student newspaper at Boston University, has issued an apology and has made plans for its employees to undergo “mandatory sensitivity training” for its tradition of turning headlines on its campus crime blotter into jokes.

The tradition was deemed offensive because the paper made light of sexual assaults and rapes.

Editors wrote:

As illustrated by a posting on XOJane … the Crime Logs sections of The Daily Free Press have repeatedly published callous sub-headlines making light of serious issues and inadvertently exploiting victims of crime for humor. On behalf of the Board of Directors of The Daily Free Press, we sincerely apologize for these headlines and any other material that may have caused harm or offense.

Though Crime Logs have traditionally aimed to satirize harmless, victimless crimes, these examples demonstrate a lack of sensitivity and empathy on the part of several editors. … Going forward, the Free Press will publish Crime Logs with only serious headlines … (and) 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. …

The anonymous XOJane column in question was titled “It happened to me: I was raped at Boston University and the student newspaper made a joke of it.” She declined to cite the headline referencing her case, but did cite other examples:

  • 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 pushed over on the street and held down to have her genitals photographed by a stranger. “Trashford.” You know, a fun, in-joke pun, because it happened on Ashford Street which is inhabited by many BU students and therefore said to be fratty/trashy?! So funny! Like, seriously, give this writer a promotion! The victim will totally forget her trauma and feelings of dehumanization to congratulate you on your funny thing!

  • A female BU student’s door to her dorm room was vandalized with racial slurs. “Haters gonna hate.” Yes, I do hate you, you ignorant, thoughtless person whom I refuse to call a “writer.”

Click here to read the full XOJane column.

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