Column at American University Causes Controversy

Columnist challenges the meaning of date rape, and pays for it.

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We tried to ignore this fiasco here at Paper Trail. Not because we don't find it—or the debate that has come out of it—interesting, but it seems like controversies like this arise pretty regularly on college campuses across America. It's a simple formula: Columnist pens something about drinking, sex, and rape that discusses the roles and relationships of each gender in a far too flippant way—as if columns like that are new on campuses. Then someone—or in this case, a lot of people—gets offended. Then everyone with a blog or outlet for commentary talks about it.

It stinks when it happens, and it happens a lot. But the upshot from all of these controversies is that they (in theory/hopefully) force campuses and students to deal with the serious topic of rape.

Being so close to American University, this one was hard for PT to ignore any longer. It already drew some coverage in the Washington Post, among other outlets. After coming under fire from every angle, the Eagle, American's student newspaper, wrote an apology to readers.

"The fact of the matter is that the Eagle did not approach the publication of Alex Knepper's most recent column entirely correctly. For this, we are sorry," the editorial message says. "We stand by our decision to publish controversial opinions and will continue to publish opinions that a majority or minority of the campus community find wrong and potentially offensive ... However, we should have demanded that Knepper's column be written in a tone befitting such a serious issue."

What prompted the outrage? Well, one paragraph in particular seems to be catching the most heat:

"Let's get this straight: any woman who heads to a [frat] party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy's room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK? To cry 'date rape' after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone's head and then later claiming that you didn't ever actually intend to pull the trigger."

And don't worry, the AU administration chimed in, too.

Like we said above, the good that has come from the fallout is that it looks like AU is going to deal with an important subject.

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