BU newspaper editor shouldn’t take fall for April Fool’s mistake

When college athletes blunder during an important game, they may face the scorn of teammates, coaches, and fans. But unless they seriously foul up on or off the field - by breaking the law, for instance - they aren’t kicked off the team. That same standard should apply to college students who participate in other activities, from drama club to student media.

Unfortunately, that’s not how a controversy sparked by the April Fool’s edition of Boston University’s independent student newspaper, the Daily Free Press, played out this week. The prank edition, which included an article commenting on several recent incidents of sexual assault on campus by inserting Disney characters into a report about rape, understandably offended some members of the BU community. The article was rude, for sure; but it also had some satirical merit, especially on a campus grappling with how to prevent sexual assaults.


While the offended were within their rights to express outrage, their anger shouldn’t have resulted in editor-in-chief Chelsea Diana taking the fall. In fact, under Diana’s direction, the paper had written several well-reasoned articles and editorials about sexual assaults on campus. The paper’s board of directors would have had a justifiable case to stick up for their editor, not push her out.

The opportunity to take on big responsibilities and fail, without the consequences that would follow after a similar blunder in the real world, is exactly what makes working on a college newspaper - or participating in any college activity, for that matter - a valuable learning experience in the first place.