The board of directors of Boston University’s independent student newspaper has apologized after an April Fools’ Day edition that made light of rape, just a few months after highly publicized sexual assault cases caused an uproar on campus.
“We cannot apologize sincerely enough to all those who were offended by the inexcusable editorial judgment exercised in Monday’s annual print-only April Fools’ Day issue of The Daily Free Press,” Annie Ropeik, chairwoman of the board, wrote today in a statement posted on the paper’s website.
“Considering the events of this semester and the increasingly vocal, constructive climate of conversation about sexual assault and many other important issues on campus, much of the content of Monday’s issue was incredibly harmful, tasteless and out of line,” the statement said.
Ropeik also said the board had asked Chelsea Diana to resign as editor in chief and as president of the Board of Directors of Back Bay Publishing Co. Inc., and Diana had accepted.
Diana, Ropeik said, in making the decision to run many of the articles, had “in no way perpetuated our values as an organization.”
The top story in the paper: “Seven frat dwarves were arrested last night after they allegedly drugged” and sexually assaulted a female Boston University student identified as “the fairest of them all.”
Another front-page story involved Alice in Wonderland on a bad trip after taking LSD supplied by fraternity brothers. Another implicated Cinderella in a prostitution ring.
Sexual assault has become a charged topic at the university after the arrests of two BU ice hockey players in the past several months, as well as three Peeping Tom incidents in dorms and possible episode of sorority hazing in March that sent a woman to the hospital, the Globe reported today.
“My first thought is that the words ‘Let’s put out an April Fools issue’ are almost guaranteed to lead to tears and heartache,” said Dan Kennedy, a media writer and assistant professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.
He said that due to the serious nature of the topics the staff chose to highlight, as well as the reaction of the community, drastic action was needed.
“We’ve never looked that seriously at our April Fools issues in the past but we probably will be in the future,” said Ropeik.
She said the April Fools issue is something that editors mull over well in advance and look forward to each year. Last year, the theme was Lord of the Rings, the year before, when Ropeik herself was editor, it was Harry Potter.
“I hope that in a year from now we won’t have to say we can’t run one,” she said.
Ropeik added that the board, as well as the staff, are fairly tight-knit and she knows Diana on a personal level as well.
“I have the utmost respect for her as a journalist,” she said. “She made a mistake and this is what happens.”