Editorial: Merging our identity as students and journalists in the Beacon’s recent coverage

At Issue: The Beacon’s story on the removal of the list of alleged abusers

Our Take: Reporting with the Emerson community in mind

CW/TW: This editorial addresses issues and events surrounding campus sexual assault and violence.

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The Beacon published an article on Thursday detailing how the college removed a list that detailed the names of more than 12 students accused of sexual assault. For the sake of transparency, we would like to explain how we went about reporting the story and why we didn’t want to stay silent on the issue of sexual assault at the college.

As journalists, we must uphold a responsibility to report on what is happening in and around the community. We told this story because we thought we weren’t fulfilling that responsibility by withholding valuable and public information from our readership, which includes the events that happened and the college’s following actions.

Those in the newsroom are not immune to the threat of sexual violence and harassment. There are survivors in our own office who are forced to cope with the events on campus while working to report on them. This only made it even more important to us that the Beacon covered this issue and event, but also made it personal.

It was never our intention to put anyone in danger or harm—survivors and participants of the event alike. After thoughtful consideration, we decided to redact the name of the public event, the name of the student who recorded and posted the video on Twitter, and the name of the organizer who tweeted that they did not know about who posted the list. We did not send any Beacon reporters to the public event or reach out to the attendees during our reporting out of respect for their privacy. Any Beacon staff member who attended the event went for personal reasons, separate from their journalistic endeavors.

This is not something we learned in our journalism classes. It’s what we learned from the Emerson community—what we feel matters most. We respected the requests to protect the event’s anonymity despite it being public, and we used our best judgment to make sure that in the process of producing and updating this story, no one would get hurt or possibly re-traumatized. We believed that in doing so, we would create a safe environment for those who want their voices to be heard and fight for what should be done.

This is not the first time the Beacon has reported on issues of sexual assault at the college. In the 2018-19 academic year alone, our reporters wrote eight articles and produced one podcast episode about the college’s Title IX Office. In an editorial from earlier this semester, we advocated for the college to act on its words against Betsy DeVos’ proposed changes to Title IX regulations because flowery words do not make up for the school’s history of inaction towards these cases.

We’ve also published multiple articles about the increasingly long search for a permanent Title IX lead investigator and the Title IX office staying silent during its review of the sexual misconduct policy in 2017 following two lawsuits against the college for how it handled cases.

We understand the need for more transparent reporting. If you or anyone you know has questions regarding the Beacon’s reporting of this issue, please contact us. We remain committed to not only holding the college and its officials accountable for their actions, but ourselves for our own as well.

Students at the Beacon are learning and growing with each issue and each story. Emerson College should be a learning environment for all students to partake in constructive criticism and to help one another. Though other students have contested the Beacon’s decisions for writing this article, we will continue to be dedicated to reporting the truth, holding those in power accountable, all while finding ways to improve ourselves.

The Healing and Advocacy Collective in rooms 303 and 304 of the Anisin building provides confidential support and an open-door policy for those impacted by power-based interpersonal violence. They can also be reached at advocacy@emerson.edu, or 617-824-8857. For additional, 24/7 support, students can contact the Boston Rape Crisis Center at 1-800-841-8371, or the National Rape Crisis Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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