Letters to the Editor

Immaturity

It was truly sad to read your April Fools’ Day edition of The Hatchet and you all should be embarrassed. While some may have found it offensive, I simply found it moronic and juvenile. There was not a single line of wit in the entire edition – even though so much about GW is worthy of and almost begging to be satirized. A series of smart, acerbic, and seemingly real reports would have been far superior to the lowbrow vulgarity to which you all resorted, and which made this issue truly a waste of paper.

What’s worse is that your inability to be intelligent in a parody is indicative of a general failure of your staff to grasp the purpose and practice of professional journalism; one can only satirize the news if one genuinely understands good reporting in the first place.

Instead, your staff seems little more than a collection of repressed, horny teenagers, who unfortunately reveal this immaturity even in the serious editions of your paper.

-Matthew O’Gara, Ph.D, Associate Professorial Lecturer

Not satire

Congratulations. This year’s April Fools’ issue, which I thought was supposed to be funny, managed to find it’s way into a full story on Friday’s WJLA Channel 7 noon news, for deservedly less-than-favorable reasons. This year I and several other students – both graduate and undergraduate – feel that The Hatchet went way over the line.

A satirical edition of the Hatchet for April Fools’ Day has been a tradition going back at least since I was an undergraduate in the late 1990s. Back then, the “stories” were often parodies of university events with some good-natured ribbing of administrators and prominent students. Stereotypes were mocked, and there was the occasional off-color reference.

This year’s edition, however, was absolutely disgusting to the extent that it was more suited to be sold in shrink-wrap from behind the counter. Almost every “story,” picture, column and caption was, it seemed, X-rated. Certainly students at an institution such as this can come up with more sophisticated, less offensive “humor” than this.

In the end, though, I wonder if I should be surprised. After all, this year’s Hatchet has included raunchy sex advice from “Chick” and “Dick” on a weekly basis and even in one issue had a special rather voyeuristic section on the female breast. I’m not asking for the gravitas of the New York Times, but it seems we can at least pretend to aspire to certain journalistic standards.

-Christopher Jenkins, graduate student

Blatant ignorance

I felt that the article published in the April 1 edition of your newspaper, entitled “Crosby protests for D.C. rapists’ rights (p. 17),” was extremely distasteful and offensive. This article glamorized the idea of rape, specifically stating that “girls started fighting for the right to be sodomized.” However, rape is defined as “the crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts.”

I am aware that this edition of your paper was, in nature, satirical; however, a satire is a piece of writing that makes fun of blatant inequities and calls the public’s attention to issues that need to be changed. This article does make fun of the ridiculous mindset of rapists and sexual offenders, but it goes too far when it suggests that survivors of assault desire it. Far from making fun of rapists, this aspect of the article merely reaffirms a sad and dangerous myth in our culture – the myth that people who have been sexually assaulted have really asked for it.

GW has approximately 10,000 students, of which about 60 percent are women. Going by the well known statistic, previously published by The Hatchet on Feb. 9, that “by age 18, nearly one out of every four women is the victim of sexual assault,” means that around 1,500 women on this campus have become survivors of sexual assault. This may not sound like a huge number, but if you think about it, if a girl lives in a quad configuration, statistically, one of her roommates has been sexually assaulted. That makes 1,500 women who may read this article and be forced to revisit the common feelings of worthlessness, self-blame and stigma that surround survivors of sexual assault. Not to mention the rest of the GW community, which has been subjected to reading an article fueled by such blatant ignorance. Sexual assault is a real problem that should be addressed with some respect to those who have experienced such a traumatic ordeal.

Perhaps in future articles and publications, The Hatchet should consider the ramifications of the opinions that are expressed.

-Leighanna Kilgore, freshman

Stop violence

I am writing in response to an article entitled “Crosby protests for D.C. rapists’ rights (p. 17),” which was published in the Hatchet’s April Fools edition. Although I read this edition every year with a sense of humor, expecting to be entertained, I felt this article was seriously inappropriate, especially given April is “Stop Violence Against Women” month.

While I try to keep an open mind about all articles contained within the Hatchet, I believe that this article is perpetuating dangerous beliefs that men hold about rape and sexual assault, and I do not feel that this is an issue which should be taken lightly. Instead, I would encourage my fellow students here at GW to ignore articles such as this and to participate in several activities being held this month which work toward raising awareness and preventing violence directed against women. For instance, I would invite those who care about the safety of women to attend a Stop Violence Against Women Coffehouse on Wednesday, April 7, from 8 to 11 p.m. in the Hippodrome.

-Rachel Coleman, junior, President of GW Amnesty International

Added distress

I was dismayed to see the photo of a GW’s student’s corpse in the Mar. 29 edition of The Hatchet. That was sensationalism in its purist form. The photo did not add to the story – as The Hatchet editor in chief argued it did in a lengthy column of self-adulation on the previous page. When there is a need for an article devoted to the controversial nature of a photo about a student’s death, perhaps that should be an indicator it is not appropriate at this early stage to include such an image. As a paper, you did not impress the campus with your on-the-scene reporting; you only added an unnecessary cloud of distress to the whole horrible situation.

-David Angelo, junior

Use Caution

I am writing to express my disappointment in The Hatchet’s coverage of the drowning victim’s death two weekends ago. Over my two and a half years here at GW, I have valued the efforts and contributions The Hatchet has made to our campus. However, I feel The Hatchet’s recent coverage of the GW drowning victim has crossed the line with what is appropriate for a student newspaper to report.

Specifically, The Hatchet’s hasty decision to include a photo of the victim underneath a white sheet in its online edition is insensitive to his family and those who knew Phil well. I am bothered by the fact that The Hatchet, as a student newspaper, has the audacity to include such a graphic picture, without considering the effects it would have upon the GW community. I was taught a long time ago that just because you have the ability to do something does not mean that you should. As a student newspaper, The Hatchet does not have the prerogative to include, what many felt, was a photo out of its scope of practice.

I hope that in the future, the editors of The Hatchet will exercise more caution and thoughtful judgment in choosing what is and what is not appropriate, out of respect for the victim and his family and friends.

-Justin Guthier, junior

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