s the only independent student-run news publication on campus, The Heights is best positioned to report on University matters with an ardent dedication to objectivity and fairness. For a group of 40 or so college students with no professional experience in journalism and no official editorial advisors, it’s a lofty responsibility. And at times, it wouldn’t be unfair to allege that we Heights editors take ourselves far too seriously as a result.
But once a year, The Heights’ board dismounts the high horse that is still printing weekly in 2019 to rummage around in the muddy trough of Boston College culture. Welcome to The Depths.
Published on or around April 1, The Depths is our annual satirical issue. The New England Classic has consistently “served Boston College with chips and a pickle since 2007,” but The Heights was first to satirize campus culture with the arrival of The Depths in 1978. An earlier iteration of the satirical issue came in Nov. 1964 when The Heights published The Infidel, a parody of Holy Cross’s student newspaper, The Crusader, ahead of the rivalry football game.
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t a glance, the inaugural Depths is proof of enduring criticisms made on behalf of the student body. “Exclusive: Monan To Visit BC” headlined the inaugural four-page book, playing up the apparently longstanding University president tradition of being neither seen nor heard on campus. After The Heights’ reporting on the struggles of students who identified as LGBTQ+ in 1977, The Depths reported on the strife of “closeted heterosexuals.”
The original Depths issue set a precedent for how The Heights approaches the satirical issue in the present day: Every year, Heights editors tirelessly (i.e. usually four hours before the 2 a.m. deadline) mine the year’s news stories for bits of comedy. The 2018 issue contained an article titled “Marriage is Only True Union, Fahey Says,” prodding the University’s stance on the proposed graduate student union. Following the 2019 probe into Robert Kraft’s extracurriculars at the Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Fla., The Depths reported on “Raft’s” proposal for a new “five-finger discount” to cover tuition.
The 1978 issue proved to be a one-off until 2002, when The Depths, rebranded as “The Incoherent Student Weekly of Boston College,” re-entered the comedy scene with relatively tame fare. “Jesuit community laments Mary Ann’s suspension” and “Student complains about Newton bus, no one cares” were among the offerings. Admittedly, both could be reprinted in 2020 with the same minimal impact. Hard-hitting or not, The Heights has continued to publish The Depths for the past 17 years.
On occasion, the stories of The Depths acted as near-prophecies. (Don’t mind me as I grab the reigns of The Heights’ high horse.) The headline of the top story of the 2017 issue read “School of Social Work Named for Koch Brothers.” The article included fake Facebook post quotes from made-up student activist group “Moderate Boston College Racism,” which alleged that the University “yet again ignored the hardships experienced by literally tens of students on this campus in favor of trilionaire murderers who are directly responsible for every human atrocity since the dawn of civilization.”
When The Heights recently reported that the University was in talks with the Charles Koch Foundation to fund a political science program at BC, Climate Justice at BC released a similarly fiery statement. It condemned the political science department due to the Koch brothers’ “MAJOR ROLE IN THE TERRIFYING ACCELERATION OF CLIMATE DISRUPTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION” and “LONG HISTORY WITH AND STRONG CONNECTIONS TO WHITE SUPREMACISTS, RACISTS, AND RABID ANTI-SEMITES”—both not unfounded allegations.
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epths controversy didn’t stop with the Kochs, however. 2003’s edition arrived with a disclaimer, something The Depths could have used in 2016 when The Heights issued an apology to Boloco, a New England burrito chain, following a satirical piece that insinuated the chain gave students food poisoning. The real culprit, of course, was the Cleveland Circle Chipotle, which gave 80 students food poisoning in Dec. 2015. Unsurprisingly, 2016 was the first and last year The Heights published The Depths directly to the website.
The 2016 incident is yet another issue The Heights is forced to confront as it shifts its focus toward digital media. Since 2016, The Heights has opted to limit The Depths to print to prevent inflammatory articles from circulating beyond the immediate purview of BC. Additionally, The Heights opts to avoid defamation claims by using fake names to identify the subjects we parody in good faith. Obviously, the humorous musings of The Classic and student posts in the Boston College Memes for Jesuit Tweens Facebook group live online. But the level of scrutiny is rightfully higher for a newspaper that claims to—and does in fact—accurately report real news stories.
Currently, The Depths is a treat for our loyal print readers. Aside from providing a brief refuge from the seriousness with which we treat our jobs as Heights editors, The Depths creates a common space for commiseration in an era where the news forecast is almost consistently bleak. Once The Heights makes the inevitable shift to digital-only publication, it is my hope—and I’m sure the hope of The Heights editors who took pride in The Depths before me—that The Depths finds a new way to bring humor to The Heights.
Featured Graphic by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor