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Editorial: Online discussion must not lack civility any longer

By Editorial Board
On April 30, 2013

  • UConn’s Valerie Sadowl throws to first during Tuesday’s 6-4 win over Boston College. TROY CALDEIRA/The Daily Campus

In an attempt to raise awareness for a cause she believed in, UConn senior Carolyn Luby wrote an open letter to university president Susan Herbst expressing her displeasure with the new logo, albeit for unconventional reasons.
Luby, who openly identified herself as a feminist, made the argument to president Herbst that perhaps the university should be less concerned with rebranding itself with a new cartoon husky and name, and should instead do something to address the culture of violence and crime that some of the male athletes who play under this new logo have recently demonstrated.
The letter gained popularity and was eventually featured on, a national website that allows users to comment anonymously on posts. After that, a litany of things fell into place. Because she was a woman writing about sports as a feminist on a website that allows people to post whatever they'd like anonymously, many comments criticized her appearance and threatened rape. It is a sad fact about the Internet culture that any time something woefully inappropriate can be said, it will be said. It is unfortunate that this situation had to get out of hand to the point where Luby felt so uncomfortable and unsafe that she had to turn to the police who, unfortunately, were not able to provide her with protection, only weak advice on how to keep a low profile on campus. That is not to condemn the UConn police whose hands were tied by the fact that Luby technically lived off campus.
The issue here is that a student wrote something that was meant to start a very worthwhile discussion about our campus' culture toward sports, women and violence and was not able to. The article went on the Internet, a place that should be a free forum for necessary debates like this to happen, but as instead chewed up and spit out by the trolls who either thought they were funny, or worse, were completely serious about bullying this young woman into silence.
It is extremely unfortunate that someone who was trying to heal the UConn community was shot down by the very violence and ignorance that she was speaking out against. It is our hope that both Luby and all those who agree with her, as well as those who agree with her right to start such a discussion, are not turned off by the ignorance of a cadre of cowards with anonymous names. Furthermore, we hope that one day, we can all live in a world where even those who can remain anonymous won't corrupt an healthy forum for discussion. Until then, we can only join those who have already spoken out in favor of Luby and her message and hope that something like this doesn't have to happen again.  

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