Every year, the Yale Rumpus — a campus tabloid that specializes in pushing the comedic envelope — routinely publishes stories with headlines like “Santa & Yale Men: They Come Once and Disappear.”
But this weekend, the Rumpus crossed a line. Editors were forced to retract the publication’s annual first-year issue on Saturday in response to backlash from staff members who took offense at jokes about sexual assault that had made it into the issue.
“The black out/hooking up w freshmen jokes are really not funny,” one staffer wrote in an internal Rumpus group chat on Saturday morning, as writers and editors distributed hundreds of issues across campus.
“Do you guys want us to pick them up?” asked Daniel Kaylor ’20, one of the publication’s two editors-in-chief, in the same chat, screenshots of which were obtained by the News.
The staffers were reacting to an editor’s note, or “Rump’s View,” that made light of sexual assault, and to a square on the publication’s traditional “Hookup Bingo” page that included the option “Freshman’s first blackout (FREE).”
“We here at Rumpus are happy for you and would also like to congratulate you on losing your virginity,” read the editor’s note, which was addressed to the class of 2022. “Now, before you think, ‘Shit, does Rumpus know I blacked and let a senior on the baseball team raw me on that foul mattress in the Sig Nu basement?’ the answer is yes, but we’ll unpack that later.”
On Saturday morning, Rumpus reporters and editors went into damage control mode, scrambling across campus to remove copies of the new issue from residential college dining halls.
In a statement posted on the Rumpus’ Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, Kaylor and Kristina Cuello ’20, the other editor-in-chief, apologized for publishing “unacceptable content” and said the new issues were pulled from dining hall shelves immediately after a staffer raised concerns about the material.
“As editors-in-chief, we are deeply sorry that we allowed this content to be published,” the statement said. “Its presence in the issue was a major editorial oversight entirely on the part of the editors-in-chief, who were the only ones to have access to the final version of the issue.”
Twelve students have quit the publication since Saturday’s incident, according to Kaylor and Cuello. Nearly half the staffers who left were not actively involved in the publication, the editors said. Kaylor and Cuello said they plan to stay on as editors-in-chief.
Founded in 1992, the Rumpus publishes four issues a year mocking various aspects of campus life, including dating culture and secret societies. The retracted first-year issue included articles titled “Yes, Your Roommate Already Hates You” and “100 Days In the Life of a Yale Virgin.” In the past, the Rumpus has drawn controversy for its annual “50 Most” issue, which features the 50 most attractive Yalies, as selected by the Rumpus staff.
Leila Halley-Wright ’21, a staffer who quit the Rumpus in protest this weekend, said she decided to leave because “jokes regarding sexual assault should have no place at Yale.”
Cuello and Kaylor told the News they were the only members of the Rumpus who contributed to the editor’s note. In future, the editors wrote in a joint email, they plan to include other staffers in the final review of each issue as part of a “more robust editing process.” In the staff group chat, several students complained that no other staffers had seen the final issue before it was distributed and called on Cuello and Kaylor to step down.
Despite the exodus of more than half a dozen active staffers, the Rumpus will likely continue publishing issues this year because a core group of upperclassmen remains on the staff, according to a Rumpus staffer who requested anonymity to speak freely. Still, the staffer said, the retraction could hurt the publication’s recruitment efforts.
Sigma Nu President Jake Leffew ’19 said he did not see the Rumpus’ reference to his fraternity. But, he added, “that sort of stuff is clearly not something to joke about.” A member of the Yale baseball team declined to comment.
Of 14 students interviewed by the News, 13 said they had not seen the Rumpus issue or read the jokes about sexual assault.
After she was shown the controversial lines, Cinthia Zavala Ramos ’21 said the jokes crossed a line.
“The way they described it — getting rawed in the basement of a frat — is very disgusting. It’s also feeding into stereotypes by mentioning baseball players,” Zavala Ramos said. “I remember reading their first-year issue last year and thinking it was funny … but describing sexual assault in such a disgusting manner is a lot.”
The Rumpus editor’s note — signed “RumpDicKs-in-Chief” — was not devoted exclusively to the Sig Nu basement.
“Half of you got in because you’re rich, a quarter of you got in because you’re poor, and the final quarter of you sucked your admissions officer’s dick so hard that you’re still icing your jaw,” the note said. “Everyone here heard about that, but Rumpus is the only publication that will talk about it because the YD“N” is too proud to.”
Britton O’Daly contributed reporting.
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