New York Times calls J1 scheme an 'embarrassment' in story on balcony collapse

The balcony that collapsed in Berkeley ysterday, killing six irish students
The balcony that collapsed in Berkeley ysterday, killing six irish students

A New York Times article on the Berkeley balcony collapse tragedy that left six Irish students dead has been heavily criticised this morning for associating the incident with the general behaviour of J1 students in the US.

The article, published last night, is headlined 'Deaths of Irish Students in Berkeley Balcony Collapse Cast Pall on Program' and the piece goes on at length about the J1 scheme, explaining it to an audience that may not be familiar with such a central part of many Irish people's student days.

The article begins by correctly calling the J1 'a rite of passage' but in the second paragraph it calls the scheme 'a source of embarrassment to Ireland, marked by a series of high-profile episodes involving drunken partying and the wrecking of apartments in places like San Francisco and Santa Barbara'.

It then jumps straight into a description of last night's events in Berkeley which left six dead and seven in hospital, which could be perceived as linking the behaviour of J1 students with the tragedy that occurred.

The piece goes on to hear testimony from many Irish who took part in the scheme. Some have great memories of their summer away but others recall the partying and they also reference a 2014 article on the Irish Voice about an apartment that was wrecked by J1 students in San Francisco last summer. 

The way the article is constructed has led to accusations of victim blaming and the reaction to the piece here has been one of anger.

Here is just a small sample of the reaction...