University of Connecticut students rallied outside the Student Union Monday afternoon to protest what they felt was an offensive skit produced by campus television station UCTV.
The controversy began with an episode of the show “Shenanigans” entitled ‘Evil Blue Light,’ the plot of which was based on a female student pressing the emergency button on one of the many blue lights on campus while fleeing from a masked assailant.
But instead of calling for the police, the blue light accused the girl of lying about her situation and berated her until the masked rapist came and dragged her away. The blue light then congratulated the rapist.
The firestorm surpassed a similar incident in October 2010 when The Daily Campus, UConn’s student newspaper, published two cartoons in the same issue, which prompted former editor-in-chief John Kennedy, now a UConn alumnus, to require sensitivity training for the entire staff.
It is unclear if UCTV will agree to mandate sensitivity training. A representative from UCTV could not be reached for comment and several student reporters refused to comment on the incident.
A statement was posted on the UCTV website apologizing for any “frustration or harm the respective video clip has caused.” An updated version of UCTV’s policies will also be posted on the site by March 1.
Rep. Gregg Haddad – D-Mansfield – attended the rally and told students that the Higher Education and Employment advancement committee, of which he is a member, will soon propose legislation that would expand the Clery Act – a federal act that requires colleges and universities who receive federal financial aid to annually report crime statistics.
“The expansion would specifically address sexual assault,” Haddad said.
Brenna Regan, a UConn senior and co-president of a popular campus group called Idealists United, congratulated everyone in the crowd for successfully attracting the support of student groups and state legislators.
“Our story went national,” Regan said. Popular blogs including The Raw Story and Gawker.com. ran stories about students’ reaction to the video.
More than 600 students said they would attend the protest on the public event Facebook page “Protest of UCTV ‘Evil Blue Light’ where a student from Oxford University offered her assistance. About 60 students attended the rally.
Regan said that student groups must continue to push for UCTV to change its policies and to add violence against women sensitivity training to the curriculum of introductory courses which all freshman are required to take.
Many students at the rally felt the video promoted victim blaming.
“I was most uncomfortable with the line “‘you blond bitches are always crying about being raped,’” Cindy Luo, a UConn senior who wrote an editorial in the Hartford Courant about the episode, said. “There’s this misconception that women make up false rape allegations.”
“It’s not something that should be joked about. Rape is under-reported and under-prosecuted,” Luo said.
“It’s disappointing that my student fees are going to UCTV for this,” Colin Neary, a senior at UConn, said.
Neary, while speaking to the crowd of students, referred to the show as a ‘springboard’ for policy changes.