A Statement On Conflict Of Interest
Written by Bwog Staff
To the members of the Columbia community: Bwog does not condone rape culture. We are firmly committed to fostering a safe community. Over the last six months, we have made coverage of sexual assault on this campus a priority in our reporting. As a news publication, we consider it our responsibility to further transparency around this issue and have been dedicated to increasing its visibility and facilitating discussions on and offline.
On May 7, allegations that a member of our staff had violated Columbia University’s Gender Based Misconduct policy were brought to our attention by an anonymous tip. As a reiteration of our continued work against rape culture, we have taken steps to ensure that the makeup of Bwog’s staff, without question, reflects this. Accordingly, we asked this staffer to permanently and immediately resign from their position, and they agreed. Our decision does not reflect a position on the innocence or guilt of this former staff member, nor does it comment on, take a position on, support, implicitly or explicitly, any allegations of fact or law made against such person. To have allowed this staff member to remain a part of Bwog would have, in the opinion of the editorial staff, been a conflict of interest, hampering our ability to accurately report on campus activism. More importantly, in the opinion of the editorial staff, we felt that allowing this staffer to continue his affiliation with Bwog would have tacitly endorsed a rape culture we so firmly stand against.
We delayed publishing the photos until they went viral online—but delayed publishing only because we were in conversation with Bwog’s legal counsel and university administrators, who insinuated that posting the list, in any capacity, might have violated Title IX, FERPA and/or made us vulnerable to libel or defamation lawsuits. We felt it necessary to discuss the legal landscape surrounding 1) posting photos of the lists that have appeared in campus bathrooms and 2) removing the accused staff member. We are encouraged to see the amount of productive dialogue being held about an issue that each member of our staff cares deeply about.
This decision was not made lightly and is meant to reflect our zero-tolerance policy toward rape culture and sexual assault. We would like to reiterate once more that until proven true in a court of law, any and all allegations made are merely that, allegations. In accordance with our comment policy, any attempts to identify the individual involved in the comment section will be removed. Any concerns or inquiries should be sent to [email protected].
Sarah Faith Thompson, Editor-in-Chief
Claire Friedman, Managing Editor
Alexander Pines, Features Editor
Maud Rozee, Internal Editor
Jake Hershman, Publisher