BRIDGEWATER (CBS) – The student newspaper staff at Bridgewater State University has come under fire for its decision to publish the name of a rape victim who spoke at a public rally against sexual violence.
According to people at the event, the victim gave her name at the rally, but intentionally withheld information about the school where she was raped.
The newspaper, however, published the name of the school where the incident happened.
That decision was met with dozens of complaints.
“I understand that she spoke at a public event at a public university but she specifically said she was not releasing the name of the school and was also changing some information in her story,” Samantha Veseskis wrote in a letter to the editor of The Comment.
“She is a survivor and does not need her personal life hung out to dry when she censored it for her own privacy at the rally and publicly stated her desire to keep those things private…After the damage that is done through a personal violation such as rape there is nothing worse than yet another violation of the private details of your story,” Bridgewater alumnus Brianna Martin wrote.
Editor Mary Polleys responded to those complaints by defending the decision. She maintains there was no violation of their policy on publishing the names of sexual assault victim.
“Our policy is that we don’t do it unless we’re given consent. When she spoke at a public rally, that is implied consent,” she said.
Further, an editorial offered a defense on the decision to publish the name of the college where the attack took place.
“Any information included in the article that (the victim) did not share at the rally was easily found by searching her name and looking at her publicly-accessible social media profiles,” the paper’s staff wrote.
Faculty Advisor Dave Copeland supports the student paper’s decision to leave the article posted on the web – even after the victim asked that it be removed.
“It sets up a dangerous precedent that any time anybody disagrees with a story it can be taken down,” he said.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
A university spokesman acknowledged the sensitivity of the issue and says the controversy sparked an important discussion.
The school does not plan to take any action against the students.