The editor of Bwog, one of Columbia University’s student-run newspapers, has resigned over a photo of a woman standing near alcohol bottles at the house of sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. Sorority houses aren’t usually allowed to have alcohol; the paper apologized for publishing the image “without considering the full implications it may have for the woman in the photograph.”
The story has been pulled from Bwog’s site, but a cached version lives on; it’s bylined “Bwog Staff.” It also relies on the work of an anonymous tipster who—just spitballing here—sounds a lot like the disgruntled member of a rival sorority. From the tip:
Rumors have swirled for years about Kappa Alpha Theta’s alcohol consumption inside the brownstone at various chapter events like Bid Night and mixer pre-games. For the first time, there is documented evidence of this fact. In the attached photo, you can see 7 alcohol containers on the desk of an individual who lives in the KAO brownstone. You can also see the letters on the desk and the kite with a member’s name on it which confirms the fact that this was taken inside of the brownstone. It is unfair for these girls to get away with the rules when two huge sororities on campus are left without official chapter facilities.
(Yes! Rumors have long “swirled” about college students drinking alcohol at home.)
The picture is from Snapchat; it depicts a woman standing on a desk with her head on a book shelf, taken from behind. She’s wearing what look like pajama shorts, which expose a portion of her buttocks, and resting her head as though sleeping in that highly uncomfortable position.
“You can’t sleep there,” the caption reads.
Oh yes: there are also three bottles of Svedka vodka near her and what look like a couple bottles of wine.
Theta was the sorority that was recently covered in the New York Times’ Style section. It was described as the most overtly feminist of the school’s Greek houses, but one that still had to carefully hew to national chapter rules. Members of the chapter supported fellow student Emma Sulkowicz in her famous mattress-carrying protest by signing their own names to a mattress and taking it to a demonstration. But they didn’t use Theta’s name:
When the women of Columbia’s Theta chapter decided to decorate that mattress, standing front and center at a rally on campus, they made the conscious choice to use the sorority’s motto — “Leading Women” — rather than their Greek letters, so as not to cause a stir within their national office.
A furious debate immediately erupted in Bwog’s comments section over the vodka story, given that it could have drawn disciplinary consequences down on the sorority. “Narcs,” one person commented. Another called on Bwog to blur the butt in question and accused the tipster of being part of the school’s “War on fun,” or perhaps just jealous:
Where is the respect for this student’s identity and body. Shame on bwog for not at least blurring the photo in parts. We understand that you want readers for your dead ass paper but please not at the expense of a students’ wellbeing. This shit is savage and it’s clear the motive of the informant and bwog is to tear down the sorority—sorry ya’ll never got invited to a single That formal in your lives but it makes sense bc you’re just assholes. #waronfun
A few commenters also pointed out the extreme double standard at work here. “I can’t believe sororities are at risk of losing their entire brownstone just for having alcohol,” one wrote. “Frats get trashed all the time, EC is filled to the brim with beer cans 3 nights a week. Who tf cares? What’s with this double standard? We’re not at Radcliffe in the 1950's.”
All of this culminated Monday with the abrupt resignation of Bwog’s editor in chief, and an apologetic statement posted at 1 a.m. by the paper’s director of communications and associate publisher:
In light of the recently removed post regarding alcohol in Kappa Alpha Theta’s brownstone, Bwog’s Editor in Chief, Mason Amelotte, has resigned from all involvement with Bwog, effective immediately. The post was created in poor taste, without considering the full implications it may have for the woman in the photograph. As an organization that strives to provide unbiased, relevant news on campus, Bwog’s decision to post this image centered on what an image like this may mean for the Greek community. Ultimately, in the case of a weighty post, such as the one which formerly contained a sensitive image, Bwog should obtain consent from the individuals directly involved prior to posting. Moving forward, Rachel Deal has been appointed to serve as the Interim Editor in Chief for the remainder of the semester.
Amolette’s social media profiles indicate he’s been the EIC of Bwog since December. We’ve reached out to him for comment and will update if we hear back. Kappa Alpha Theta hasn’t publicly responded to the story.
An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Bwog’s communications director and associate publisher are both women; associate publisher Nikolas Huth is male. I regret the error.
Columbia University. Photo via AP