There are various institutions that are well known for their journalism programs. Among the most prestigious top five are Columbia University School of Journalism, Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia (home of the Peabody Award), NYU's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and Harvard University. A fifth member of this quintet of top schools is the the only one outside of the Eastern seaboard. It's the University of Texas, Austin, home of the Longhorns.
U of T puts out a daily newspaper called the Daily Texan (the largest student newspaper in the country) and it's got a lot more to it than cattle prices and home remedies for for saddle sores. Those kind of breaking stories aren't going to get you too much notice in Austin. For that you should go to Texas A & M -- become a Texas Aggie.
U of T, where you're as likely to give the Hook 'em horns hand gesture as you are a fist bump, publishes an award-winning newspaper. This rag has got a venerable history—
According to the paper's site:
The Texan has won more national, regional and state awards than any other college newspaper in America and counts 10 Pulitzer Prize winners among its former staff. Also among it's alums are Walter Cronkite, Lady Bird Johnson, Bill Moyers, and Liz Smith.
Pretty heady group, wouldn't you say? Well, tradition is on hold this year. The editors decided to veer into brave new territory: sex columns.
Move over Moyers, Smith and Cronkite. Make room for: Fabulous Frank, Sexy Sally, Virgin Veronica, and Committed Caroline.
Yup, that's right. The Red state which on one hand boasts their sexy Dallas Cheerleaders and on the other gives you misogynist Governor Rick Perry and his anti-women's rights laws has chosen to break new ground in the Daily Texan. Maybe they're ready to shed their conservative nature for a more balanced and enlightened look at the world. Maybe they're ready to take their heads out of their oil-well submerged thinking and join us in the 21st century. And like most things in Texas, when they do something, they do it BIGGER.
The DAILY BEAST:
Safe sex should be something people should want to talk about openly and honestly,” says Kelsey McKinney, the associate managing editor of the Daily Texan. “It’s something that can be important—but also can be a little bit more fun than our breaking news.”
This semester, the paper welcomed four anonymous columnists to its Life & Arts section: Fabulous Frank, Sexy Sally, Virgin Veronica, and Committed Caroline (no relation to this author). They each have a gimmick:
Man, reading my college newspaper at Columbia sure wasn't like that. I think we got more reviews of Chuck Berry or Jefferson Starship at the Filmore East and occasionally an anti-Viet Nam commentary. Then we might read about a professor who was nominated for a Nobel Prize. We rarely got a glimpse into human sexuality. And certainly not like this.
But the U of T columnists take their "spreads" very seriously.
It certainly makes some people uncomfortable and those people have given us a little bit of backlash, but really we enjoy what we are doing and we know we’re not doing it just for fun—we’re doing it for a purpose,” says Sexy Sally. “We try not to pay attention to the haters. For the most part, people who grew up in Texas—we didn’t have a very good sex education and it’s not typically something parents are super open with their kids and I think that’s why it’s made some people feel kind of uncomfortable.”
And they do their research as all good journalists are taught to do. Take for instance Committed Caroline:
“I didn’t know my own body at all, so how could I be ready to share it,” wrote Committed Caroline in her column on masturbation. “So I learned. Girls in Texas aren’t taught how to pleasure themselves any better than they’re taught where to get birth control, so I learned with my hands under the covers by myself where to touch myself and how.”
Now before you accuse me of putting that quote in just for shock value, you're right. But shock for a different reason than you might think. I'm stunned that in any state in the US there isn't enough "sex education" or the program is so limited and clinical that kids are reaching college age and don't know their own bodies. What can the possible outcomes be? Not good ones.
The lack of proper sex education, whether at home or in the school, preferably both to maybe counter-act the lack of parents accurate information, is a must. Without it we're heading for more sexual assaults, unplanned pregnancies and yes, even communicable diseases.
What the Daily Texan is doing should be commended. When you draw attention and shed light where it usually don't shine, you're performing a service. All of that last statement can be taken as a bad joke or in the spirit in which it's meant. Let's educate. Let's not cut funding for programs or school papers. They're filling in many of the gaps that we, as parents, have overlooked or chosen to ignore.