We stand in solidarity with the demonstrators of Monday’s protest on the Rabb steps and their pursuit of justice for survivors of sexual assault. As a newspaper, we strive to use our platform to raise awareness about issues, shed light on injustice, keep the community informed and spur readers to action.
We urge the administration to take further action. In Tuesday’s email to the student body, President Ron Liebowitz said, “For those who have faced sexual violence or who are feeling especially vulnerable, please remember this: Brandeis cares.” President Liebowitz failed to mention Monday’s protest in his email.
The students protesting on the Rabb steps allowed themselves to be publically vulnerable. What is Liebowitz, and the rest of the Brandeis administration, doing to directly address the problem of sexual assault on campus? Pointing them to various resources that have not helped students before? What do they have to say to students who feel they’ve been failed by the university?
The email also noted that faculty with relevant coursework were asked to build in class time to discuss sexual violence. Why is discussion limited to certain disciplines? Sexual assault should be discussed in classrooms across campus, regardless of subject matter. Students in business seminars and biology classes should have to take a few minutes to touch on the confirmation hearings and civil rights in the U.S. “Relevant coursework” on these issues should be fundamental, not supplementary—and shouldn’t be limited to departments like Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies.
There are many ways to respond to trauma and raise awareness around an issue. This week, The Brandeis Hoot aims to raise awareness through this editorial and through news coverage of Monday’s protest on the Rabb steps.
The function of a newspaper is to report on events that impact the community it serves. Because The Hoot is a campus newspaper, we report on events related to the Brandeis community. Therefore, anything that happens in a public space at Brandeis is of interest to us and merits news coverage. How that coverage is handled comes down to journalistic ethics, which is why we opted to publicize an image of the demonstrators at the event.
The Editors-in-Chief made this decision after reviewing The Hoot’s ethics policy in detail, which requires us to provide a reliable, accurate and unbiased source of news. It is our duty not to misrepresent events, and deliberate distortion is never permissible. The photos we used in the article represent the protest well. We are obligated to provide the fullest possible coverage of the event.
We understand the need for sensitivity when covering events of this nature, but public events do not guarantee anonymity. When an event takes place in a public space, the people choosing to participate in that space sacrifice their privacy and do not get to choose if the media reports on it or what parts they report.
We want to make it clear that we have published a photo of the entire demonstration in our print copy, but will not be identifying anyone by name or publishing any photos that include demonstrators’ faces on our website or on social media.
Although we feel we did the right thing from a journalistic standpoint, the issue challenged us as members of the Brandeis community. As students, we support and uphold the values of the demonstration. Members of our editorial board have also faced sexual assault and harassment. We believe in holding the administration accountable and pursuing justice for survivors. Only through the practice of sound journalistic ethics can we seek to accomplish these goals.
We encourage the community to engage with us and share their opinions about the media coverage of the demonstration, even if these opinions are critical of The Hoot.
Ryan Spencer and Sabrina Chow did not contribute to this editorial.