December 4, 2013

Satiric News Site CU Nooz Retracts ‘Insensitive’ Story, Issues Apology

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Students say satirical news site CU Nooz crossed the line between funny and tasteless when it published an article Wednesday mocking the most visible component of Cornell’s suicide prevention efforts — the means restriction nets hanging above gorges where students have died by suicide.

After being hit by backlash from students, alumni and the blog IvyGate on Twitter, CU Nooz removed the article and issued an apology. The piece — headlined “Administration Secretly Kind of Disappointed No One’s Used the Suicide Nets Yet” — was published before editors had the chance to review it, CU Nooz’s editors-in-chief said to The Sun.

“A mistake was made and we, the editors, take full responsibility. Steps have been taken to ensure that such an accident shall never occur again,” CU Nooz editors-in-chief Dan Greener ’14 and Adam Groner ’14 said in a statement. “Suicide is no laughing matter, and we understand how insensitive the article was, especially in light of the tragedies that occurred on campus just a few years ago. We apologize to the Cornell community for this mistake.”

The article was published almost three weeks after The Sun reported that no one had entered the nets since they replaced temporary fencing around bridges this year. It joked that President David Skorton was “a little bummed” no one had jumped into the nets yet.

Both University Spokesperson John Carberry and Sharon Dittman, associate director for community relations at Gannett Health Services, declined to comment on the satirical article.

The nets installed around the seven gorges on and around Cornell’s campus are a critical part of the University’s suicide prevention efforts. Since three students jumped to their deaths in the gorges in Spring 2010, the University has redoubled its mental health initiatives, consulting with internationally recognized experts to improve mental health on campus.

Beyond the nets, the University has offered free, walk-in counselling at discrete locations around campus, organized a council to focus on graduate and professional students’ mental health and increased funding for Gannett Health Services’ mental health initiatives.