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UND student's satire column on date rape draws ire

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GRAND FORKS -- In late November, Josh Brorby, a columnist for UND's student newspaper, decided to write a satire from the point of view of a date rapist.

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It was supposed to mock a certain type of college man, the kind that is so eager for action that they want their bedmates unconscious.

What could go wrong?

As of Monday evening, there were 120 comments on the Dakota Student's Web site, most of them from extremely angry women and some equally angry men, as well as seven signed letters from more angry men and women.

Student columnists have courted controversy in the past, Editor-in-Chief Michael Thomas said, but he can't remember the last time any columnist has gotten such an overwhelmingly negative response.

The paper's editorial board has since expressed its regret for stirring up such bad feelings and someone from the office of the Dean of Students has had a word with the columnist, who appears to be extremely remorseful, not to mention shocked by the response.

Thomas said he couldn't comment more than what's said in the editorial board's response and Brorby can't comment either.

He said Brorby is writing a column for today's edition to better explain himself.

Muddied message

Brorby wrote what he called a guide for the man's one-night stand as a response to an earlier guide written by a female columnist that he thought

didn't include enough tips for the "fellas." His method, he wrote, "requires extreme concentration, a willingness to disregard what we know as 'the law,' and, most importantly, a complete lack of respect for not only the person you plan to involve, but yourself."

The method consists of holding a small party with people you know real well, chatting up the special lady and getting her "something to drink -- maybe a nice little Sex on the Beach, or some straight mouthwash. If you have the means you could just inject her with some Sodium Pentobarbitone."

Then, he advised, "get to it."

Brorby wrote that the next day "You shouldn't sleep later than her, if you sleep at all. ... Now sneak out. ... I don't care where you are; if she's there, you better not be."

And the moral of the story: "Check it out: You may have just lost a great friend, divided all of your acquaintances ... lost the trust of everyone close to you, and cried yourself to sleep the following evening, but who cares, dude, YOU JUST HAD SEX!"

Tara Mamchuk, a representative of the UND Women's Center, wrote one of the letters complaining about Brorby's column. It took her a second reading of the column, she said, before she realized the writer meant it as satire -- but it didn't make her feel any better.

"I am greatly concerned about what message readers will take from this article, especially when they will likely read it just once and possibly not think twice about it," she wrote. "More specifically, I am VERY concerned that people will read this article and draw the conclusion that it is acceptable to sexually assault someone."

The apology

In a comment posted with his column, Brorby apologized. He was only trying to make fun of "men whose main goal in college life is to 'score,' to go out and -- as I've heard men say before -- 'slay' women at the bars or at the clubs." Jonathan Swift once satirized the British treatment of the Irish in 1729 by suggesting they eat Irish children, Brorby said, and he, while no Swift, was trying to do the same with date rape.

He wrote that he hadn't considered how women might read the column. "I'm feeling pretty terrible about the whole situation. I apologize. I cannot stress enough that my aim was off -- way off -- and that the tone used in this article is much too light."

Bob Boyd, vice president of Student and Outreach Services, said he an administration representative did talk with Brorby. "The administration has been careful to provide the Dakota Student with the autonomy it needs in order to have to be a true voice of students," he said. "There certainly has been and will be times when we will be prompted to visit with those in charge of the Dakota Student. That's always done with an attempt to help and not punish."

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