Friday, September 5, 2014
College Media Matters: Kansan Calls Out KU on Special Front Page, Homepage for Mishandling Student Rape Case
The University Daily Kansan has responded to an alleged sexual assault case bungling by University of Kansas officials with an editorial bang-pow-boom — in print and online.
According to the top-notch KU student newspaper, this past October “a male student confessed to raping a female student in her dorm room after she got drunk at a fraternity party. He was found ‘guilty of non-consensual sexual intercourse’ — which is rape — by the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access, the campus entity that primarily deals with sexual assault reporting through the university. … [T]he university proceeded by placing the student on probation, banning him from student housing and requiring him to write a four-page reflection essay as well as seek counseling.”
Those punishments, first brought to light by The Huffington Post, are being criticized as far too light by some members of the KU community. The school’s acting student body president: “When the University of Kansas doesn’t expel, doesn’t suspend and doesn’t even submit to community service someone who is an admitted rapist, we are absolutely not fulfilling our obligation to eliminate a hostile environment for our students.”
Yesterday, in return, the Kansan launched an editorial assault for the ages, publishing a special front-page quartet of related stories in its print edition — all under a single prominent header. The above-the-fold hed features a brave-bold quote from the student body prez: “The system we have in place is failing our students.”
The paper also did some digital tinkering to hype the same four stories across the top of its homepage. The teasers for each piece are placed provocatively within boxes spelling out R-A-P-E, one letter at a time.
The piece promoted under the E is an editorial mincing no words about the staff’s disappointment in the university’s handling of the case. It is coupled with a promise that the paper will report with gusto on it from all angles one day and one story at a time.
A portion of the editorial: “The university administration should be ashamed at the accusations regarding the mishandling of a reported on-campus rape last year. The University Daily Kansan will seek the truth about why it happened and hold administrative bodies accountable for their actions. … We will do our absolute best to be on top of everything related to the issue and be the source students, faculty, staff and alumni trust and come to when looking for the most recent information. You can expect us to dig deeper than we ever have before to shed light on rape culture at KU.”
In an Instagram post hyping the special front page, UDK editor-in-chief Emma LeGault writes, “I am so honored to lead an incredibly passionate team of journalists who are wholly committed to covering this issue and giving a voice to students. We will not stop pursuing this. We will tell the truth.”
Kudos to LeGault, Cole Anneberg, Maddie Schultz, Amelia Arvesen, Miranda Davis, Allison Kite, Rochelle Valverde, Cecilia Cho, Hannah Barling, Christina Carreira and the entire UDK editorial, design and online crews.