Univ. of Maryland paper changes editorial policy following outcry over cartoon

Editors at thestudent newspaper at the University of Maryland at College Park passed a neweditorial policy after a cartoon that ran March 18 prompted protests on campusand thousands of angry e-mails sent worldwide.

The cartoon in TheDiamondback characterized the actions of an American peace activist, who waskilled in Palestine when an Israeli bulldozer ran her over, as the definition ofstupidity. Campus groups organized a sit-in blocking one of the entrances to thenewspaper office and administrators spoke out against the newspaper’s decision.Editor in chief Jay Parsons said although no apologies will be made, a newpolicy was approved last week that lists limitations on publishing certainmaterial and defines the editorial board’s powers.

The new policy waswritten by Parsons and editorial staff members after they consulted withjournalism faculty members who criticized the staff’s decision to print thecartoon. The original policy allowed anything not libelous or violence-incitingto be printed on the opinion page. Under the new policy, a cartoon will be heldif it is libelous, incites violence, contains unnecessary “obscenity orvulgarity” or it contains “unoriginal points of view on non-current topics.”Parsons said the policy is intended to encourage debate over questionablecartoons, columns or letters.