On behalf of the University of Colorado at Boulder, I want to apologize to the members of Colorados Asian and Asian-American communities for a satirical column written by a student columnist at the CU Campus Press the Web-based student news outlet managed by the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The column was a poor attempt at social satire laden with offensive references, stereotypes and hateful language. It was not properly labeled as either satire or commentary, and readers were left with the impression that the author spoke for the collective staff and leadership of the Campus Press, and perhaps even the University of Colorado.
He spoke for none of the aforementioned, and while his column is unquestionably protected under the First Amendment, the sentiments he has expressed are wounding and damaging to a community we hold dear and come at a time when we are trying to celebrate diversity at CU-Boulder with our annual Diversity Summit. I want to personally apologize to the individuals who may have been wounded or offended by the column and the perspectives that it purports to represent. I have asked the dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to review this matter, to meet with the management of the Campus Press and to consider what steps are appropriate to account for what was published. In the meantime, I invite the commentary of all communities to the Campus Press Web site at www.thecampuspress.com.
While that discussion takes place, let me reiterate the support of the CU-Boulder campus, our collective campus community, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for our Asian and Asian-American students, and for all students of color from all walks of life. Let me also reaffirm my commitment to building a campus that embraces diversity in all its forms, and that also promotes free speech, open debate and discussion of issues and ideas, and that will not trade one to achieve the other.
Statement from Paul S. Voakes
Dean, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
February 21, 2008
I had a frank 90-minute meeting with five editors of the Campus Press this morning, and I want
to share with you some next steps.
We were joined in this meeting by CU-Boulder Spokesperson Bronson Hilliard, Campus Press
Manager Amy Herdy, and SJMC Diversity Coordinator Dave Martinez.
As you no doubt have learned by now, the student editors believed that Max Karsons piece on
Asians on campus was a piece of satire. Once they realized that most readers either didnt see
the satire at all or saw the satire and found it in poor taste, they have apologized publicly. They
apologized again this morning in this meeting, as did Amy.
I told them basically what Ive been saying in the media for the last 24 hours. * After a
discussion in which each student and Amy expressed feelings, opinions and explanations, we
worked out a number of measures for the Campus Press that I hope will preclude such editing
lapses in the future.
- Beginning immediately, The Campus Press will provide enhanced coverage on the
campus controversy the paper has sparked, which will include an open forum for commentary
on the issue, for as many days as are warranted by ongoing reader interest.
- The Campus Press will work with SJMC Diversity Coordinator Dave Martinez to
establish a Student Diversity Advisory Board, composed of non-journalism-majors who
represent a broad swath of interests on the campus. The boards purpose will be to provide
editors with regular feedback from students with a diversity of backgrounds.
- The Campus Press will invite a number of student organizations to meet face-to-face
with the editors, to discuss any specific concerns.
- The Campus Press will adopt an Opinions Policy, with standards and procedures for
determining the acceptability of opinion columns or other reader-generated content.
- The Campus Press will schedule a series of diversity awareness workshops for the
entire staff, in concert with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, and
with participation of professional journalists of color.
- The Campus Press will schedule a series of workshops for opinion writing and editing,
to be presented by experienced professional opinion editors.
Id like to reiterate that The Campus Press is the Schools teaching publication, and I
believe the events of this week have provided all of us, not just Amy Herdy, with a wealth of
teachable moments. Id like also to remind you that we have, as one of our faculty agenda
items for this semester, a reconsideration of the governance-and-instruction model for The
Campus Press. I look forward to that discussion. In the meantime, Im confident that the
current crop of editors has begun to develop a new, more nuanced understanding of the delicate
balance between absolute free speech and journalistic social responsibility.
And finally, I want to apologize on behalf of the School for the upset that our student
publication has created.
Paul S. Voakes
Dean, School of Journalism and Mass Communication