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Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com

Student leaders, administrative officials and members of The Campus Press listen to a member of the audience during the open forum regarding Max Karson's column Feb. 28 at the CU-Boulder campus.

 

Student leaders want 'Campus Press' editor, adviser out

Chancellor pledges to assemble committees, evaluate publication during open forum

 

BOULDER – CU-Boulder student leaders called for the replacement of The Campus Press Editor-in-Chief Cassie Hewlings and adviser Amy Herdy during an open forum with the university’s administration Feb. 27 in the school’s chemistry building.

 

Chancellor's response

Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson made three pledges to student leaders regarding their demands at the open forum

 

• To assemble a group, which includes students, to research if Max Karson's column violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination from any program or activity that receives federal funding.

• To assemble a group, which includes students, to look at the status of promises made two years ago after another incident.

• To have members of the school of journalism and mass communication evaluate the structure and practices of The Campus Press. Their recommendations will be presented and discussed with a group created by the UCSU.

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This comes after Assistant Opinions Editor Max Karson's column, "If it's war the Asians want..." enraged many students and community members who say it is racist and threatening to people of Asian descent. A diverse crowd of approximately 250 people attended the two-hour meeting where selected individuals relayed their concerns and demands to the editors of The Campus Press and the administration.

 

“Good journalism sometimes does push boundaries and should try to create dialogue in the community,” said Amie Ha, a representative from the Vietnamese Student Association at Boulder. “However, since it is such a powerful medium in the community, that power must be tempered with ethics.”

 

Others added that this wasn't an isolated incident – an opinion piece that ran a week prior by staff writer Lauren E. Geary titled, "No hablo ingles," was said to be derogatory to the Hispanic population.

 

“The fact that these two racist articles were both written by staff members shows a systemic culture of racism and bigotry within the leadership of the current Campus Press,” CU-Boulder senior David Chiu said.

 

John Ali Sharza, the University of Colorado Student Union director of diversity affairs, said that the article was just the latest incident involving discrimination to occur on campus.

 

"It was not a piece of satire as The Campus Press editors have defensively stated," Sharza said. "It is not a form of freedom of speech, but rather just one of the many issues of the countless acts of institutional racism and discrimination toward women, toward ethnic minorities and toward the community of CU as a whole that exists today."

 

Herdy agreed with the students, saying that the larger issue is that there is a group of students who feel marginalized and discriminated.

 

"I told The Campus Press students that if we're failing – and clearly we are," she said, " ... we are failing because we are not representing these voices of these students."

 

Hewlings said that she wants to work with the other students in finding a solution.

 

"My firm belief is not to work separately to the same, goal, it shouldn't be an us-versus-them mentality that gets fostered," she said. " ... I firmly believe that a better solution is always found by the most inclusionary methods."

 

After the meeting, Hewlings said that The Campus Press is working on plans to hold a diversity forum sometime next week.

 

Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson said that while he couldn't answer all of the students' demands that night, he could pledge to some. He said he would assemble a group – which will include students – to work with the school's chief legal council to examine if there has been a violation to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. He would create another group to review the progress of promises made two years ago from another incident. And he would have Paul Voakes, dean of CU's school of journalism and mass communication, and his colleagues work to evaluate the current structure of The Campus Press, present their recommendations and meet with a student group to discuss their findings.

 

"I'd like to ... continue to work with UCSU ... to identify ways to continue this discussion and work toward a community that is more inclusive, more welcoming and one that is, above all else, safe," he said.

 

Voakes said that he met with members of the journalism faculty prior to the meeting.

 

"The entire faculty and I were horrified when we saw the Karson column because this is the antithesis of what we're trying to teach in our school," he said. "And now we, the faculty and I, take responsibility for the offense that The Campus Press obviously has caused."

 

Voakes added that the majority of their meeting was spent "working on immediate, concrete measures" to makes sure that this does not happen again.

 

For Hewlings, the recent events have already proven to be a big lesson.

 

"It was a mistake for me to not be able to see how more people would take this and for that I am so very sorry," she said. "That was very irresponsible of me.

 

"And I can only say that I've learned more in the past week than I have my whole 22 years of life."

 

And, perhaps, more lessons will come from this.

 

"I hope people learn accountability and, ultimately, forgiveness," Ha said.

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