In their recent Frosh Issue 2014, Canada’s Only Daily University newspaper, the Western University Gazette, wrote three pieces that stirred quite a lot of controversy over the internet this weekend.
The first article involved tips on how to seduce your teaching assistant. The second article involves drugs that a first year may encounter on campus and advice on doing drugs during your Western experience. The final article that caused some backlash was a drinking game to play during Western’s dry (alcohol-free) O-Week.
After Meghan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, called for Gazette-editor-in-chief’s Iain Boekhoff resignation, according to the LFP Boekhoff said:
“When I heard that, I had to read the piece to make sure I hadn’t missed something. I don’t see anything wrong with the piece [...] The general reaction (to the issue) was positive.”
Walker’s full letter to Western’s president Amit Chakma, Boekhoff, and the University Students’ Council, can be read here.
The PSAC Local 610 Executive, representing TA’s at Western University, even released a statement:
The article basically iterates every poor decision you could possibly make in the classroom. Moreover, as dating advice for anyone, never mind one’s instructors, it is simply disturbing. In other words, the only appropriate response to whether or not you should date a TA is simple and unambiguous: you don’t.
The Gazette responded,
Regardless of the specific controversies surrounding certain pieces, it should be clear that The Gazette does not encourage or condone sexual harassment, assault, other forms of violence, excessive alcohol consumption or unsafe drug use.
They continued by adding,
The Frosh Issue, as with all of our special issues, gives us a unique opportunity to address some of these same social issues in a more light-hearted, informal way.
Retrospectively, our tone did not match up with the interpretation of some who viewed the pieces. We will learn from this situation and our mistakes and reinforce that while these specific articles may have fallen short for some, our priorities concerning such topics remain the same.
Their criticism of the One Love Rally, an event that was geared towards mental health and diversity acceptance, came less than a year after landing in hot water about a comic seemingly trivializing depression and suicide.
As seen above, this is not the first time that The Gazette has faced backlash over material they’ve published. It is also important to note that the student newspaper has editorial autonomy from the University Students’ Council and the university.
What do YOU think about the article causing the controversy? Feel free to voice your opinion on the matter in the comments section of this post!