UC-Irvine students boycott advertisers in conservative paper; copies are stolen

CALIFORNIA — Staff members of theIrvine Review, a conservative student newspaper at the University ofCalifornia at Irvine, say they knew they could face challenges when theyintroduced their publication in October. But even they did not expectthe March 2003 edition, which included several articles some students calledracially offensive, to inspire fierce retaliation on campus, including thealleged theft of 500 papers and a boycott of the publication’sadvertisers. The latest edition of the Irvine Review includedarticles that criticized a movement by two student groups, the Tagalog andPilipino Studies Kollective also known as TAPS and Kababayan, or Kaba, toestablish a permanent Tagalog and Philippine studies program at the university.The Review published an editorial calling the groups’efforts “sheer lunacy” in light of recent budget cuts and said thecreation of such a program would only lead to a more divided campus. The paperalso ran a satire of the groups’ efforts in a piece that called for theaddition of a beer studies program at UC-Irvine. Chris Silag, a memberof Kaba, said the Irvine Review gives conservatism a bad name. He addedthat though he does not view the paper as having a racist agenda, it sometimesperpetuates stereotypes. “Comparing beer studies to Tagalogstudies was another ridiculous column that one couldn’t takeseriously,” Silag said. “I was hard-pressed to find any intelligentarticle which was against TAPS.”Ryan Mykita, publisher of theIrvine Review, said shortly after the article was published, papers begandisappearing. He said thefts have not been a problem in the past but estimatesthat 500 to 600 copies of March’s 3,000 press run were stolen. NathanMasters, editor of the Review, said although he suspects the thefts werecontent related, he has no proof.“Private individuals havecommitted crimes by throwing away our newspapers in large quantities in anattempt to silence us,” Masters said. “I think a far moreconstructive response would be to start up their own newspaper. If theydon’t like our ideas and opinions, they shouldn’t try to shut usdown.”Masters said an informational police report has been filedand that he hopes to prosecute if the thieves are caught. Silag said he believeswhoever stole the newspapers acted independently of a campusgroup.“I personally think it was a small group unaffiliated withany club that destroyed copies of the Irvine Review,” he said.“I think these people sunk to the level of the IrvineReview’s making fun of the Tagalog language. I don’t approve ofpeople’s attempts at forcefully squelching freespeech.”Several students also approached Irvine Reviewadvertisers and arranged a boycott of their businesses. Shaun Ito, owner andmanager of the Lollicup Tea Zone, said he was confronted by members of severalstudent groups who said they would no longer patronize hisstore.“I didn’t get a copy of the latest edition untilsomeone came into our store and threw it at us,” Ito said. “Itcaused a lot of trouble because they mention Kaba, which is one of my biggestcustomer bases. It’s huge on campus. When Kaba started complaining, thataffected a huge amount of my business.”Ito declined to name thestudents who approached him or the groups they were affiliated with. Members ofKaba say although the article upset them, they were not involved in theconfrontation. Ito said he was aware that the Irvine Review was aconservative newspaper when he agreed to run an ad. When he learned of theboycott, he turned all communication with the paper over to his lawyer. Mykitasaid the boycott was the result of a major misunderstanding.Currently,the Review receives its funding from private donations and fromUC-Irvine’s Alternative Media Board. For the March issue, Mykita contactedseveral local businesses and offered to print free ads in an effort to see ifadvertising would be a viable source of revenue in the future. Ito accepted thefree ad, and told Mykita he could place it wherever he chose. TheLollicup Tea Zone ad ran under another one placed by the Review staff,which encouraged readers to support the paper’s “sponsors” bypatronizing their businesses. Ito said this coincidence caused many students toassume that the Lollicup Tea Zone helped finance the paper and supported itsmission, Ito said.Ito agreed to drop any legal action if the paperprinted an ad in the New University, UC-Irvine’s student newspaper,clarifying the situation. The Irvine Review did so, and both sidesconsider the matter resolved. However, Ito said he would think twice beforeadvertising in the Irvine Review again. “I know it’sanother form of advertisement to increase our business, but it might have moreof a negative effect than a positive effect,” Ito said. He added that hehas no personal opinion regarding the newspaper’s content and conservativeoutlook.Mykita said that while the paper has received criticism andangry letters in the past, nothing has reached this magnitude. Masters saidReview staff members hope to move past this situation and continue to“introduce conservative ideas” on campus.“We will notback down because of this controversy,” Masters said. “There wasnothing wrong with what we printed. We criticized the Filipino Studies campaignwith well-reasoned arguments, and they have responded with name-calling. We willcontinue to express our ideas and provide a balance to the campus exchange ofideas.”The next edition is of the Irvine Review is expectedApril 14.