Student senate asks Berkeley newspaper to apologize for cartoon

CALIFORNIA — In retaliation for a political cartoonin The Daily Californian, the student newspaperat the University of California Berkeley, the student senatepassed a bill calling for a front-page apology and sensitivitytraining.

The legislation passed Oct. 10 with a vote of 11-7 with oneabstention. The bill was substantially different from its originalversion, which stipulated an $8,000-per-month rent increase forThe Daily Californian. The bill that passed doesnot mention any monetary repercussions for the paper.

"It took out all of the strong language to say basicallythe [Associated Students of the University of California Berkeley]wants to slap the Daily Cal on the wrist," said DanielFrankenstein, a senator who opposed the legislation. "Itdoesn’t do anything; it became something very symbolic."

The bill directly refers to a Sept. 18 editorial cartoon drawnby syndicated cartoonist Darrin Bell that depicts two Muslimsin hell in reference to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The cartoon may promote the kind of harmful stereotypingthat has led to the murder of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and SoutheastAsians across the country," the legislation states.

In the bill, the student government called for a printed front-pageapology for the drawing. The senators plan to request the apologythrough a signed letter to the editorial board. They want thepaper to take responsibility for using poor judgment in printingthe editorial cartoon. The senators also are asking The DailyCalifornian staff to attend sensitivity training.

The resolution concludes by affirming the First Amendment rightsof The Daily Californian. The senators proclaimed thatthe paper has the right, "to express whatever views it wishesand praise them for their strong editorial and news leadershipand service to the general student body during these troubledtimes."

Prior to the revised bill passing, some senators, who opposedthe idea of condemning The Daily Californian, drafted anotherbill. The "Free Speech for Campus Publications" legislationproposes that any financial relationships, including funding andspace allocation should be "based on a content-neutral basis."

Proponents of the new bill believe it is still relevant eventhough the proposed rent increases for The Daily Californianwere edited from the final version.

"When you have even the possibility of upping a rent simplybecause of content, a precedent has been set that it is even adebatable issue," said Frankenstein, a supporter of the bill.

Frankenstein said he believes the bill will be discussed onthe senate floor on Wednesday.