Recently, as you all surely know, the Beacon published an anonymous piece in our Written Word section entitled How Do I Even Begin to Explain This. The article created quite a stir within the Yeshiva University community, and without, accumulating thousands of hits and hundreds of comments within hours of it being posted. Many commenters were upset by the article, mostly for the content of it and for the way in which the sexual encounter was presented. Others felt the article was poorly written, and still others accused the Beacon of posting the article purely to stir up controversy. I’d like to explain to all those interested the reasons we at the Beacon chose to publish the article. I don’t want to defend the article or the author’s purpose; I want to explain my decision as Editor-in-Chief of the Beacon.
First things first: we did not post the article in order to create a scandal. The extent of the reaction to this article was unexpected and unintentional. This article, like all articles that we publish, has literary value, and this one carried with it an important message as well. Nothing we do at the Beacon is intended to create controversy. We instead focus on publishing pieces that will lead to open and thoughtful conversations, on presenting ideas, and allowing all students at YU access to a public forum in which they can voice their opinions—not just the mainstream ones.
This article does talk about sex. Yes, sex. And the premarital kind, too. Yes, this is assur (a sin according to Jewish law). No, we don’t encourage or promote the act of premarital sex. However, it happens. It happens in our community, and we as a community prefer to pretend it doesn’t happen. This much can be ascertained by the amount of comments objecting to a public discussion of a Stern woman having sex. The only way we can address the issue in any way—to fix it, to make sure it doesn’t happen, to make sure if it does happen, protection is involved, etc—is to talk about it. That is why we posted the article—so people would talk about it. And talk they did.
Whether or not the story seems graphic is fairly subjective, and depends on the sensitivities of the individual reader. It was, in my opinion, not only relatively clean and euphemistic, but also fairly prudish compared to other articles on our site. It was for this reason that I saw no reason to minimize the “graphic” details in the posted version of the story; however, we did add a “reader discretion advised” notice to the beginning of the article in order to remain sensitive to the readers who might be offended by such material, and in the future we will be sure to continue this policy.
In terms of the journalistic quality of the piece, much has been said for each side; some seem to think it’s “beautifully written,” others think it’s the worst writing they’ve ever seen. For my part, I found the writing to be raw and honest, emotional and frank. I think, in fact, it is this honesty that has upset many of the readers.
To all those upset by the article, I apologize. But I do not regret the decision to post it. This is the reason the Beacon was founded in the first place– to be a platform for every student, not just the majority. The Beacon will continue to adhere to this mission and welcomes writers and topics from across the board. Conservative or liberal, frum (right-wing religious) or atheist, we want you to have a place to say what you believe, in a way that will help start conversations.
The exact story of what took place between the Beacon and YU in “The Meeting” that people are talking about will be explained in a separate article.