The City of Boston is very unhappy with Rolling Stone's decision to feature Marathon Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its August 1 cover, so unhappy that a long list of New England-tied retailers have refused to stock the issue. As of today, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's former college, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has joined the boycott.
The mass email announcement was sent out early this afternoon and passed along by a tipster:
From: UMassD Notifications
Date: July 18, 2013, 12:17:49 PM EDT
Subject:Rolling Stones Magazine
Please be advised that the Campus Store will not be selling any copies of the upcoming Rolling Stone magazine!!
University Campus Store
It's absolutely understandable that the state school would want to distance itself from Tsarnaev, a former scholarship student indicted for using weapons of mass destruction, and that given the tremendous local controversy, the college would be accused of somehow lionizing his celebrity or condoning his actions if they'd sold the issue on campus. But it's also worth noting that this is how Reitman's 11,000-word piece paints UMASS Dartmouth, a description that's both accurate and unflattering:
A middling school an hour and a half south of Boston, UMass Dartmouth had one distinguishing feature – its utter lack of character. "It's beige," says Jackson. "It's, like, the most depressing campus I've ever seen." Annual costs are about $22,000.
If you actually read Reitman's excellent feature—an extensively researched story that roundly contextualizes Tsarnaev's background, family life, and personality better than anything that'd yet been assembled in one place—you'll also notice that Dzhokhar's character seems to have changed slightly in tandem with two primary personal developments. One, his parents divorced and relocated separately from America, leaving Dzhokhar almost exclusively under the mentorship of his radical older brother Tamerlan. Two, Dzhokhar went to the most affordable college available to him, a college that just happens to be UMass Dartmouth, a college that didn't seem to make Jahar happy:
Jahar arrived in the fall of 2011 and almost immediately wanted to go home. North Dartmouth, where the university is based, is a working-class community with virtually nothing to boast of except for a rather sad mall and a striking number of fast-food joints. It has a diverse student population, but their level of curiosity seemed to fall far below his friends' from Rindge. "Using my high-school essays for my english class #itsthateasy," Jahar tweeted in November 2011. "You know what i like to do? answer my own questions cuz no one else can."
"He was hating life," says Sam. "He used to always call and say it's mad wack and the people were corny." His one saving grace was that one of his best friends from Rindge had gone to UMass Dartmouth, too – though he would later transfer. "All they would do was sit in the car and get high – it was that boring," says Sam.
No school wants this slogan: "It was that boring."
The fact that the Rolling Stone feature reads, in part, like a UMass Dartmouth hazard symbol probably has nothing to do with the school's boycott. It would be a very stupid move for UMass Dartmouth now to sell the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Rolling Stone cover.
But the school's mass email went out 36 hours after the cover image was published online, 24 hours after CVS announced their boycott, 20 hours after Reitman's feature went online, and 16 or so hours after the Boston-area evening news went ballistic over the image. Long enough that there was plenty of time to react simply to the cover—which the school didn't—but also long enough to read and to digest the full story online. These details may mean nothing, but they are also facts.
In any case, we left the campus store manager a phone message, we'll update when we hear back.
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