A perfect storm has arisen this March at Boston College due to the scheduling of two separate events—Take Back the Night and the Barstool Blackout Tour at the House of Blues, both of which will take place on Wednesday, Mar. 28.
Take Back the Night, an annual event sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center, allows survivors of sexual assault to speak publicly about their experiences to friends and peers in O’Neill Plaza. Each year, the event takes place as part of Concerned About Rape Education (C.A.R.E.) Week.
The second event, the Barstool Blackout Tour, has been described as “the world’s largest blacklight party,” and tours colleges and college towns in the United States. Students purchase tickets months in advance to attend a party with lasers, fog, and blacklights to provide “an absolute orgy of sound and lights for all your senses,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
The Women’s Resource Center (WRC), has sponsored a petition for BC students to sign since Monday, encouraging students to stand up for rape victims.
“On a day where BC survivors of sexual assault share their stories, we as a community listen, support, and empower others to advocate and continue the fight for a safer campus,” the petition reads. “On the other side of the spectrum, students will be partying at an event organized by Barstool Sports, a group that condones and mocks the rape culture. This is a call to BC students and members of the greater community to be men and women for others by refusing to support violent rhetoric, even in the name of satire or not-so-funny humor, that contributes to a culture that blames victims and condones rape. By signing this petition I am supporting survivors of sexual assault and not condoning the rape culture that Barstool Sports blog perpetuates.”
The petition currently has more than 760 signatures, 720 of which are from current BC students.
“Our main goal for this petition is not necessarily to ‘shut down’ Barstool or to label it as the primary cause of the problem,” said Nicole Laniado, WRC staff and CSOM ’13. “We want to start a dialogue among students about why the comments like the ones that Barstool has made are problematic, and to encourage students to support survivors of rape and sexual assault in the BC community by attending Take Back the Night.”
Two specific quotes from Barstool Sports are also mentioned in the petition as the way in which the blog “condones and mocks the rape culture.”
Many students at BC have pointed out that the blog is satirical and humorous, and that attending the Barstool Blackout Tour does not condone rape or support the rape culture. Many have also argued out that if blogs like Barstool were to be censored, various forms of communication, like movies and television, would also need to be censored.
Laniado responded to such an argument by saying that jokes about rape are never funny.
“The problem with these jokes is that they normalize rape and sexual assault and put it into a less negative light, so that the reality of rape and sexual assault on our campus is taken less seriously as well,” Laniado said. “Being a survivor on this campus can be very isolating, and hearing those jokes further gives a message to survivors that their experiences are not taken seriously.”
David Portnoy, Barstool Sports’ publisher and chief blogger, was contacted by The Heights for comment but was unavailable.