I’m putting this part in italics as I do feel this is the elephant in the room for me to address this. For those who are unaware, I worked for the Crimson White for three years. I will admit if anything feels biased about my portrayal of newspapers and their process in this piece, it will be because I was involved with it. Yet I didn’t do the strenuous work like copy-editing, hard reporting, et al., so there’s also a distance as I mention this as well. Either way, keep this in mind as I write this.
“I understand your concerns. As is often the case with student newspapers and unfortunately professional newspapers as well, reporting is not as accurate as we would hope.
This opens up an e-mail sent by Judy Bonner, the current president of the University of Alabama, in response to comments and criticism behind the story ‘Consent concerns on campus‘ published February 4, 2013 in the Crimson White. While I have a lot to think about this, I will place the rest of this block quote before I respond.
The interview that The CW did with [the official] was conducted last November on an entirely different topic. As I understand it, The CW selected comments from the interview on an entirely different topic and wrote a story about rape. I have carboned Margaret Garner, associate dean for the College of Community Health Sciences. The Department of Health Education and Promotion reports to her. She can provide a more comprehensive response. But, thank you for sharing your concerns with me.”
It should be noted that Bonner’s mainly responding to people from this gross subreddit, who flocked immediately at one particular line in the piece and flooded said piece with comments and e-mails. I’ll give you a hint on the comment a Men’s Rights subreddit would get up in arms about. You’re right, it’s the one about there being no false allegations. Other than the fact that masculism (oh god, they’ve attempted to make that into a word) is extremely easy to mock, as this wonderful trolling of the (SERIOUSLY ATTEMPTED) #INeedMasculismBecause hashtag proves.
And with the idea of “masculism” in mind, jesus hell, who in the world is viciously offended by a lady who “misspoke”? Oh, right, people who freak out that men (who statistically have done the majority of proven rapes) are accused of that. It is funnier that the comments on the original piece assert the lady who said this comment to be a Marxist-Feminist or place comments against them as “hateful” as this is exactly the general feeling of quite a few men and women (feminist or not, by the way) when I posted this story to their wall.
But let’s go beyond that murkiness and back to what Bonner said and also look at this editorial, an Our View by the Crimson White posted this morning. Bonner’s tone in the e-mail, especially in the top quote, generally dismisses the Crimson White’s coverage as substandard. Let’s not forget that the Crimson White is HER college’s campus publication, the one that is using presumed ethical practices to place its stories. And even if they aren’t (which doesn’t seem to be the case with this story), I don’t know how a story about consent could not possibly be about the topic at hand. Moreover, it is paramount that an administration doesn’t suddenly put its chief student-run representative of the department of journalism under the bus. Of course, this is exactly what Dr. Bonner did. Also, it’s a bit obvious to all of you reading by this point, but it seems Dr. Bonner is obfuscating the issue here.
In college campuses, sexual assault is a genuine problem. This is not new information. Also not new information is that men get really upset about this issue, despite the fact that they do nothing to seemingly avoid it. I went with a friend to UA’s Take Back The Night, which is a national event meant to create awareness and support against sexual assault. And as much as it sucks that women still have to be considered the victims (an actually valid argument to any piece on sexual assault), it sucks even more that men never show up. There were very few men amongst that audience and there was a valid, scientific speech done by a lawyer on the legalities of sexual assault.
This issue is complex, but it isn’t that complex. Hiding the issue of sexual assault on campus doesn’t make it go away. Thus, I dearly hope The Crimson White confronts this subject using all of their means. Because this horrible shit doesn’t go away. If anything, it becomes a bigger unaddressed elephant in the room.
EDIT: I edited out a paragraph of text because I felt it didn’t contribute to the argument I was making. This flows better.
Also, another important thing. As noted by a wonderful lady on Facebook (won’t reveal her name unless she wants to take credit):
“I challenge anyone who feels anything at all about Judy Bonner’s comments contact her or her office immediately to let her know what you think. firstname.lastname@example.org (205) 348-5103
It is unacceptable for the head of this – THIS – university to try to comb over an issue that is so obvious to us all.”