The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

​HANNA: A response to April Fools’

The Cavalier Daily needs to become culturally aware and sensitive

I am an ordinary student making it through my first year here at the University. I came to this school with a taste for community, diversity and a basic understanding of social justice. I came here eager to meet open-minded, intellectual people who are ecstatic to better themselves and to leave this University with new skills that will lead them into new futures. I saw The Cavalier Daily as an outlet for the innovative student body writing about what impacts them most and what they believe is important enough for everyone to be aware of.

On April Fools’ Day, however, I found that The Cavalier Daily seemed to forget its ‘reputable’ mission statement.

The mission statement of The Cavalier Daily is as follows: “to provide the University community with new, relevant and insightful information that inspires critical conversation and even action on Grounds.” The Managing Board is correct: this April Fools’ Day certainly inspired critical conversations and actions, but I am certain it did not imagine the resulting responses to shine a negative light atop its heads.

On Apr. 1, 2015, The Cavalier Daily published several offensive articles not only mocking historical events, minorities and women, but drawing their “satirical” material from the recent tragedy that was the arrest of our own Martese Johnson. The Trail of Tears was turned into the “Trail of Schmears”; Zeta Psi is apparently hosting a “Rosa Parks” party; and the first all-female Managing Board is “full of feminine outrage.”

By writing these articles, we are perpetuating a history of racism and discrimination that should no longer exist in 2015. The Cavalier Daily released a public apology, stating that the purpose of publishing such insensitive pieces was “to start a conversation and provide satirical commentary on important issues.” As the cliched but relevant saying goes: “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Furthermore, the Managing Board has “neglected” to comprehend the backlash it would receive for publishing such audacious articles at a time when the University is still recovering from a year of trauma.

I cannot accept that these articles were meant to be satirical. I cannot accept that these articles, on a holiday such as April Fools’ Day, was meant to evict meaningful conversations amongst the student body about the problems of racism and discrimination at the University. Regardless of your intentions, the Trail of Tears, the Civil Rights Movement, discrimination against women and any other social topic we are faced with overcoming are not your sources for April Fools’ columns. Those articles have only continued to push this institution into a dark corner. Tell me: if this was Apr. 2, a normal day, would you have published these articles anyway? If the answer is no, then April Fools’ Day is not an excuse to justify the publication of such offensive material.

Perhaps what is worse is that there are students here who believe that those speaking against these articles are taking it “too seriously” or should just “ignore it” if we do not want to simply enjoy the articles for their “humor.” Yik Yak has served as a ground for the unaware and insensitive to express such thoughts, and to continue to widen the fault that threatens to separate this community.

So I ask you, Managing Board, what have you accomplished by allowing the publication of these articles? What have we as an entire student body gained from the “Trail of Schmears”? From my own perspective, I have only gained a transparent understanding about the many culturally insensitive and sexist students that attend this University. I am also well aware that not every student embodies the messages expressed in those articles — I am fortunate enough to be friends with a diverse group of people, whether that is racially or ideologically — but I cannot ignore the students who continue to perpetuate aspects of history and our American culture that should have been left in the past years ago.

I never intended to write this response, but since I will finish my Bachelor’s Degree here, I intend to make sure my remaining three years are filled with positivity. I believe all of us here need to make becoming socially and politically aware a part of our agendas. I believe that changes need to be made on the staff in The Cavalier Daily if such culturally unaware material is being released. I do not want to read the propaganda you are trying to force down my throat, “satirical” or otherwise.

As a proud student of this school, it hurts me to see that what I perceived as bright and knowledgeable has lost its luster. This is not a side of U.Va that I wanted to know, but thank you, Cavalier Daily, for showing it to me anyway.

Myliyah Hanna is a first-year in the College.

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