Two wrongs do not make a right

A week ago, we at the Echo released our annual joke issue. Less than 24 hours—at roughly 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning—we pulled the issue from the racks. Most people reading this know why we pulled the issue, but for those uninformed, the Echo made the mistake of printing the name of a student in the satirical article “Women’s Rugby Player Comes out as Straight.”

The printing of that name was seen by many as an attack not only on that individual, but also an attack on the Women’s Rugby Club and a dismissal of the struggle of LGBTQA+ individuals face when they come out. As I wrote on the Civil Discourse several days ago, this was never the intention of our editors or institution; it was a result of poor editing our part. It was a mistake. This article created a rift among our friends, peers, and broader community, and for that I am truly sorry.

Since this mistake came to light, I’ve been—more than anything else—confused by the community response. I was expecting the backlash for the rugby article—that is more than justified—but since then, the floodgates seem to have opened. In the past, the joke issue has always been understood for what it is—a joke. Yes, some elements will always be crass, irreverent, or simply unfunny, but they have never been written for the sole purpose of marginalizing an individual or group in our community. Was our article about Dean Sloat rude? Yes, but its also so outrageous and far from the truth that it shouldn’t matter.

So why am I upset? I’m upset because students have compared our team to members of the Ku Klux Klan. I’m upset because a tenured professor opined that reading the issue showed that our team was “obviously made up of affluent, white people only interested in perpetuating the patriarchy” when our team has made a concerted effort to fight against enclaves of privilege on this campus. I’m upset because that same professor accused us of utilizing “sexism, sexual violence, homophobia, white supremacy, and pure nastiness [as] sources of levity” when many of our articles were clearly challenging these notions. I’m angry because people are upset that we attached President Greene’s name to Kanye West lyrics.

Everyone has a right to find things distasteful. Everyone has a right to reach out to us and tell us what we—Kiernan, Carli, and I—did wrong. That is something that the Echo has always encouraged.

Though we made a mistake, I’m genuinely irritated by the response. A Faculty member making sweeping accusations about our staff’s integrity and morals in such an unforgiving and hostile manner is little more than bullying a group of students: a group of students who work tirelessly week after week to uphold a longstanding institution which today remains underfunded, lacking contribution from both students and staff, and is generally undervalued at this school. Our organization is made up of students who have no journalism degrees—much less rigorous training in satire. I hope members of the community will remember that.

[Editors Note: After publication, the author learned that the tenured professor mentioned in the fourth paragraph did not say the Echo is “obviously made up of affluent, white people only interested in perpetuating the patriarchy.” This quote was a paraphrased version of a comment made by a different professor at Colby. The author deeply regrets his confusion.]

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