An extraordinary essay on sexual assault written by an anonymous Boston University student has caused BU’s student newspaper to completely rework its longstanding “Crime Logs” section.
The paper’s editorial board acknowledged that the section, an attempt to “satirize” crimes, “has repeatedly published callous sub-headlines making light of serious issues and inadvertently exploiting victims of crime for humour.”
On Thursday, xoJane published an essay titled “It Happened To Me: I Was Raped At Boston University And The Student Newspaper Made A Joke Of It,” a student’s reaction to how her sexual assault was reported in the BU newspaper, the Daily Free Press.
According to the author, the Free Press’ Campus Crime Logs “regularly makes light of crimes like rape, sexual harassment and assault by prefacing the paragraph-long descriptions of the incidents with jokey, pun-ridden titles.”
Of seeing her own experience of sexual assault in the newspaper, she wrote:
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 f***ing RAP PUN.
While the author declined to identify how her assault was reported in the Free Press, she wrote that the paper used “a pun involving a popular rap song that describes the sexual appeal of a woman’s body.”
She gave other examples from the Crime Logs that she noted “downplay the severity of the incidents [and] in some cases even make fun of the victims.” For instance, a report on a man who had his head stomped on until he was unconscious and bleeding was labelled “Stomp the yard” and a report on a female BU student who was chocked by her boyfriend fell under the headline “Choked up.”
In a statement from the Free Press’ Board of Directors released Thursday, the paper apologized and took full responsibility for the offensive headlines. The Board wrote that “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.” The paper said it would now only use serious headlines in their Crime Logs, change offensive past headlines, and require all new editors to attend mandatory sensitivity training sessions.
But at the time of writing this post, it appeared that only the examples noted in xoJane had been changed. While one headline noted by the BU student had been changed to “Assault and battery,” a separate headline describing an assault on a BU Dining Services manager read “A-salt and butter-y.”
Similarly, a report on a female student who called the police after waking up to find an unknown man in her house was labelled “Who are you?” A separate Crime Log not noted in the xoJane essay included an account of domestic violence at a Romeo Santos concert under the headline “He’s no Romeo.”
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.