Satirical piece draws criticism

After publishing an article that many students deemed offensive, The Water Tower has issued an apology, but some students hope the conversation will not end there. The alternative newsmag published “The hipster girl hookup: a beginner’s guide” in the March 1 issue, under the name “anonymousbro” at the author’s request. A phrase in the satirical piece used the word “faggy,” and the eight steps advised readers to use drugs and “befriend hip gay dudes” to get “that alt chick into your bed.” “The Water Tower article is dangerous and promoting rape culture,” said senior Avery Pittman, who voiced her concerns to the SGA during public forum. “I am outraged by it.” Pittman was accompanied before the SGA by senior Monique Seitz, a former Water Tower writer. “The Water Tower article was personal attack on me as a human being,” Seitz said. The Water Tower printed an apology for the piece in their March 15 issue, and Water Tower editors Alex Pinto and Molly Kelly-Yahner spoke before the SGA during public forum. The article went to print without being approved by all of the proper sources, Pinto said. “We made a huge mistake,” Kelly-Yahner said. “This is something we have learned a lot from and never want to repeat again.” Typically, all stories are placed on a story list that can be accessed by all of the editors, the Water Tower editors said. “The hipster girl hookup” was not placed on this story list and was only reviewed by one editor as opposed to the whole editorial staff, the editors said. “Also, some editors were absent from that particular layout session, so the last-minute deliberations that might have been didn’t happen,” the editors said in a joint email. The article was printed in the Reflections section, which is overseen by Erica Weisz, according to the Water Tower masthead. A similar article was published online on TheTangential.com by Burlington resident Jonathan Wilson on Feb. 25., TheTangential.com website stated. His last name has since been removed upon his request, according to the website. TheTangential.com is a creative writing blog based in Minneapolis, the website stated. Seitz said she hopes the article will be a jumping off point for a broader discussion of rape culture. “[Rape culture is] a huge problem on campus and we just tend to ignore it,” Seitz said. “It’s not about The Water Tower anymore. It’s about a greater issue.” Seitz is working with members of the SGA, including senior Amanda Adams, chair of the Student Activities Committee, to form a resolution addressing sexual assault and rape culture. Kelly-Yahner will be attending the Dismantling Rape Culture Conference to educate herself more on the subject, she said. “We definitely have grown from this experience,” the editors of The Water Tower said. “This experience has definitely served as a reminder of the responsibility we have as a widely read publication, and the sensitivity surrounding that.”