In the April Fool's Day issue of Boston University's Daily Free Press, sorority girls get roofied and raped, one female student gets "gang-banged" by an entire fraternity, and a hockey player gets arrested for walking around with his pants down.
The stories are fictional, but the whole thing reads like a tasteless, nightmare version of the college paper's actual crime log, as BU has been in the news recently after two hockey players were accused of rape. All of the characters and bylines were bizarrely Disney-themed, and the paper was re-branded as the Disney Free Press.
"The girl with raven black hair and bright red lips woke up wearing no clothes with seven BRO dwarves laying naked in bed with her," reads a cover story penned by the paper's editor-in-chief, sophomore Chelsea Diana.
A social-media-fueled storm of outrage ensued on Monday afternoon, followed by local and national media attention. Diana resigned on Tuesday.
"It's graphic and awful," said Michelle Weiser, a BU senior and gender-equality activist. "On every page there's a joke about sexual assault. Literally on every single page. How can you not notice it? How can you not think this is disgusting?"
Rape culture has been a popular topic at BU as of late. In February, the university's dean of students, Kenneth Elmore, met with the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism for a conversation on rape culture that was streamed live online.
"These are things that are happening in real life," said Weiser. "There's a fine art of satire, but you have to actually understand what you're talking about to call it satire."
Just last week, Weiser and other BU activists sat down with Daily Free Press Campus Editor Steph Solis for an hour-long discussion regarding rape culture at BU. And last Friday night, the BU Feminist Collective hosted a "Take Back the Night" demonstration — a rally to raise awareness of sexual violence, on campus and off.
"Take Back the Night was empowering," said Weiser. "Fraternities, sororities, the whole BU community came out to support the event. And then for the Monday-morning paper to be talking about gang-banging, sexual assault, and drugs? It's a huge step backwards."
This article was adapted from a April 2nd Phlog post.