The organizing students of the awareness campaign of the systemic discrimination in the Lance, have written a response to the latest edition of the paper, including their current efforts to hold the Lance accountable for it’s content. Please note that this is the efforts of the students directly involved with the campaign, not the efforts of the WSSA.
Discrimination is not a Spoof.
It would seem that the spoof edition of the Lance has come early this year and with it, of course, are the familiar trivializations of violence against women and inappropriate ethnic-based quips. Unique to this edition, however, is not only their acknowledgement of student outrage of the content, and subsequent mockery of it, but that it is done so amidst the very same material the concerns were – and remain – founded.
Despite their defence that this is a spoof edition, it is imperative that we remain critical of what the punch line is. A sexist joke is still sexist, and a racist joke is still racist. In fact, regardless of intention, a spoofed Lance is still offensive.
On March 1st 2011, several months after the initial protest to raise awareness of the problematic content, the Lance has made its first public acknowledgement of student concerns, in their feature article, Last Call (http://www.pastthepages.ca/110301/feature.html). Mocking student initiatives meant to ensure adequate representation on campus seems to be more important than not only addressing these concerns, but also reporting on them. The Lance’s response is a clear indication of how students should expect to be represented; unfairly and inaccurately.
Accused, among other things, of not being “scientific,” having previous “prejudice against the publication,” and “holding a publication hostage” all for the sole purpose of grades demonstrates the Lance’s clear defensiveness toward the concerns raised by the students. Considering that this is not the first time in recent years students at the University of Windsor have voiced their concerns, it is surprising that the Lance would respond in such a hostile and purposeful malicious way.
Despite explaining to the editors that such things as sexism, racism, and heteronormativity can be perpetuated by inappropriate or false representation, spoofs, and/or by excluding certain groups of students by not reporting on news relevant to them – the Lance has claimed ignorance; that the students failed to explain “or even divulge any clear criteria for what makes a newspaper racist.” We would like to remind the editors of the Lance that we gave them a folder containing many examples of problematic content – with notes explaining how the content was interpreted. Perhaps, however, two of the editors’ – including the author to which this article is in response to – failure to attend any of the meetings with the students explains their lack of knowledge in this matter. Their decision to ignore this folder and disregard student concerns should not translate into our failure to inform them of the issues.
Perhaps the editors should examine the folder we provided for their records before making accusations that we did not provide “figures and stats.”In fact, among the evidence enclosed in this folder, was the “Jeepers Peepers” article which reported on the voyeur who broke into Electa Hall. We explained that using language such as “Jeepers Peepers” belittled women’s experiences of violence. As if to send a strong message to students – especially those who were victimized during the Electa Hall events – that violence against women is amusing, the Lance writes in another spoof article:
A man in a trench coat was allegedly seen fleeing in the direction of Electa Hall moments after the shots were fired. According to Winter, the gunman is likely the same suspect involved in the Peeping Tom incidents of at Electa Hall.
“Electa Hall is obviously the epicentre of CIA behavioural experiements. I mean, he ran in that direction. What more proof do you need?”
Winter alleges the CIA is peeping on women at their most vulnerable state to study how they behave.
‘They will use this information to win their hearts and minds and better market the US government’s brand of democracy.”
Making violence against women a farce was not enough; the Lance also found it necessary to remind victims that the suspect remains unknown, and at large.
The Lance’s decision to make its first public acknowledgement of student concerns a spoof, demonstrates the lack of respect it has for the people it claims to represent. In fact, the Lance has yet to make any significant changes to its content, for which the writers continue to remain unaccountable for. Moreover, despite requirements for annual sensitivity training mandated by the Canadian University Press Ethics Policy, to which the Lance follows, in addition to assurances from the editor-in-chief that it would be implemented, sensitivity training has yet to take place – and hasn’t for the last two years.
It’s important for the Lance to understand that as a university newspaper, they have journalistic obligations to report on relevant news. For example, in order for the Lance to publish this spoof edition news coverage on the elections for our student government had to be discluded. Additionally, The Lance has taken advantage of its position and power on campus to unfairly attack students –who are not only represented by it, but who also fund the newspaper. This specific Lance article is not only an attempt to seriously undermine legitimate student initiatives, but also works to prevent students from speaking out.