Volume 95, Issue 79

Thursday, February 21, 2002
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By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

A fictional, erotic story detailing a father's sexual assault of his daughter – published in the Valentine's Day issue Ryerson's weekly student newspaper – has created controversy on the Toronto campus.

The Eyeopener story, entitled "Something stirring downstairs," describes a forceful sexual encounter in graphic detail. Over the course of the story, readers are gradually made aware the subjects are a man and his young daughter.

The story has triggered memories of childhood sexual abuse for some women and has outraged campus groups.

Eyeopener Editor-in-Chief Shane Dingman declined comment, but in an editorial for the Feb. 14 issue wrote, "the story is shocking and appalling, so understanding the value of it requires some reflection. Didn't you feel aroused reading it? And then weren't you confused as the disgust kicked in? . . . so now you can kind of imagine the sick rational [sic] of pedophiles. It in no way condones it, but just shows the relative nature of eroticism and how conflicting these notions can be."

The Eyeopener is an independent newspaper that receives student funding due to a contract with the Ryerson Students' Administrative Council, said Odelia Bay, president of RyeSAC.

Many students have questioned the moral and ethical value of running the story, while others respect the story's existence, but don't think it was fair to publish it without a warning, she said. "For others, the story triggered past experiences and memories and was quite damaging – some students were unable to remain on campus."

Bay said RyeSAC supports the independent student press and will not boycott the paper or cease advertising, but has passed a motion formally expressing disappointment and concern with the story.

"While recognizing the editorial autonomy of the student press, we call on the staff of The Eyeopener to publicly apologize for the harm they caused the community," she said.

In this week's Eyeopener editorial, Dingman, in response to campus reaction, wrote, "If any person felt pain reading our newspaper, for that we are truly sorry. It was never our intention to cause harm, but rather to raise issues in a blunt and unflinching manner."

Ryerson administration believes in the freedom of the press, but feel the Feb. 14 issue of The Eyeopener is "an affront to community standards," said university president Claude Lajeunesse, in a statement.

Judith Craig, a Ryerson student and member of the Ryerson African Caribbean Association, said her club will decline interviews with The Eyeopener until further notice.

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