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Doing the Honors
James Rambin / Views Editor
When you make a huge mistake in public, you probably try to fix it as fast as you can.
When UNT makes a huge mistake in public, they pretend it wasn’t a mistake at all. At least that’s the impression I’m getting after what happened yesterday.
If you’re a member of UNT’s Honors College, you’re probably already familiar with the emails they send out announcing special events and academic opportunities.
I get a couple every week, but I’ve never seen one quite like the disaster that hit my inbox yesterday.
The email invited Honors students to enjoy tea and light refreshments with visiting guest speaker and Princeton professor of English Daphne Brooks. Professor Brooks is a leading scholar in feminist, African-American and gender studies.
Things went downhill when I took a closer look at the picture at the top of the email. It looks innocent at first glance, until you notice the logo in the bottom-right corner.
I’m hardly outing myself as a seasoned connoisseur of Internet pornography when I say that the logo for SuicideGirls.com is easy to spot.
It’s one of the most famous soft-core porn and modeling pages on the Web, featuring tattooed pin-up models in various states of undress.
And a picture from one of the website’s photo shoots is currently sitting a few inches away from the official UNT logo in this email.
That’s right: The UNT Honors College decided to represent Professor Brooks, who has authored entire books about the objectification of women, with a photo of a female model cribbed from a soft-core porn site that basically specializes in objectifying women.
I emailed Diana Dunklau, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Honors College who sent out the email in the first place, and asked her if she knew the origins of the photo.
She responded that she “found nothing suggestive“ about the image, and generally tries to include pictures that “represent typical college students” and that she “was not aware” of SuicideGirls’ true content.
She said that she typically finds images for the Honors College’s emails using Google, and that “it was not my intention to offend anyone by using this photograph.”
You’ve got to give her some credit for sticking to her guns. I mean, I probably wouldn’t try to claim that a photo of a model represented “typical college students,” or admit that the Director of Marketing and Communications for an entire division of this university just grabs pictures off Google and shoots them out to the entire mailing list of more than 1,100 Honors students.
I’m willing to admit that this was probably an honest mistake. But when that mistake is discovered, the proper response is to admit it, take responsibility and move forward with the implication that you’ll be more careful in the future.
Unfortunately, Ms. Dunklau didn’t do that. And as an Honors student, I think that’s embarrassing for her, unprofessional for UNT and deeply disappointing for me.