The Beacon apologizes for last week#039;s Ross editorial

by Beacon Staff • March 4, 2009

bAt issue:/b Referencing the Nazis in our editorial on Councilor Michael Ross student housing policy.

bOur view:/b We apologize for our inappropriate rhetoric, but still stand against Ross' policy.

In last week's editorial, iThe Beacon/i's editorial board criticized Boston City Council President Michael Ross' plan to require colleges to report student addresses to city officials. This measure would help enforce a City of Boston ordinance barring more than four college students from living together.

Since then, Ross, a few local blogs and iThe Weekly Dig/i have heavily criticized iThe Beacon/i.

In the editorial, we skewered Ross' intentions to request student housing information from colleges, sarcastically suggesting he adopt the tactics of Adolf Hitler by keeping tabs on college students with arm bands and tattoos, without acknowledging Ross' father's history with the Holocaust. Stephan Ross survived 10 concentration camps before being rescued by American troops at Dachau, a fact we did not know until Ross sent us a letter expressing his concern and disappointment with the editorial.

The suffering of Ross' father is well-known in the Boston community. We should have done our research, but we did not.

Similarly, our tone and language in the editorial were hyperbolic and flippant. Ross does not plan to round up Boston's college students and put them in concentration camps, nor does he plan on tattooing us for identification by "Gestapo-like" guards. That was sarcasm and exaggeration that, in the fervor of argument, went too far.

While we still strongly disagree with the councilor's plans, our failure to acknowledge-or Google or research on his Web site-his family history with the Holocaust caused some rightful outrage towards iThe Beacon/i and, in that editorial, undermined our argument against the ordinance.

We still stand behind Vice President of Public Affairs David Rosen's statement that he would not give out Emerson off-campus students' housing information should Ross succeed in lobbying the city to request it from colleges.

We still believe the roommate cap is both unenforceable, since the city's Inspectional Services Department cannot easily locate students living beneath the law, and impractical, in an economic recession where adding roommates to lower rent costs is an easy out for austere college kids. If city officials want to alleviate a lack of affordable housing, they should build some. They should not vilify college students, a population indispensable to the Hub.

But all else aside, we deeply apologize to Councilor Michael Ross, Stephan Ross and to everyone offended by the editorial for invoking a painful past in our rhetoric. It lacked perspective, as iBoston Magazine/i's Boston Daily blog rightfully pointed out, and was a stupid move, as written in iThe Dig/i.

We regret especially that our mistake obscured honest and open debate of an important issue to college students in the Emerson and Boston communities.,iBeacon/i Editorial Board