Friends Don't Let Friends Go To Western

Friends Don't Let Friends Go To Western

When I spotted one of our students wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the above phrase around the office a few years ago I didn't think much of it. Recently The Gazette, the University of Western Ontario student newspaper, has forced me to re-examine the rationale behind the slogan. Their "spoof" issue, published at the end of March, treats sexual assault (something 1 in 6 Canadian women experience during their time at university) as a joke, derides homosexuality and even goes so far as to make threats against a member of the Women's Issues Network who had previously criticized the paper's misogyny, homophobia and racism.

Apparently many readers also had issues with their "Saugeen Stripper" edition last year and membership in The Facebook group Rapist Culture at the University of Western Ontario is rapidly expanding.

The Gazette's initial reaction to criticism and protests over this year's spoof issue was to say "get over yourself" and point towards more responsible examples of journalism they'd penned throughout the year. Doesn't mean you weren't glaringly wrong on this one I'm afraid, folks. As Craig Ashbourne (Students Opposed to Hatred On Campus) points out:

“Nowhere in the satire issue are white, heterosexual men targeted, except where it is implied as an insult that they are queer, and thus emasculated. The only groups targeted in this issue are those who are already marginalized on a campus that boasts a population that is stereotypically caucasian and privileged men and women. As a result this issue is simply yet another example of the more elite members of campus exerting their positions of power to generate hatred and prejudice.”

Interestingly, after all the negative press The Gazette has been garnering they seem to have changed their tune somewhat but an enormous amount of work remains to be done. Click here to read the Students Opposed to Hatred On Campus update on the situation.

If you feel that Western students deserve a paper that truly represents them, in all their diversity, why not contact the The Gazette Editor-in-Chief, Ian Van Den Hurk, email equity services at Western and incoming USC president Tom Stevenson.

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