OREGON — Weeks after staff of the ”radical” left-wing student newspaper at the University of Oregon dropped off March’s issue at the university’s mailroom, they got an anonymous call.
”Your paper is sitting inthe mailing system and not going to go out,” the callersaid.
Don Goldman, a writer for The Student Insurgent, figured the anti-Christianity material in the issue — including a cartoon of Jesus and the devil in a sexual embrace –had offended a mailroom employee who then notified the university’s president.
But when Goldman got in touch with the university’s lawyer, he was told it was not the cartoon that was the problem.The Insurgent had apparently been violating a mailing code for years by using the bulk mail price at the university.
Goldman said he doubts the obscure mailing code was thereason the papers were never mailed. He points to the content in The Insurgent as the cause for the university refusing to mail the issue at the discount rate. In addition to the cartoon, the March issue contained articles about Christianity’s negative influence on society.
”Wedefinitely feel that we were discriminated against because of our beliefs aboutChristianity and the way we presented our beliefs,”
Insurgent contributor Jessica Browntold the Oregon Daily Emerald, thestudent newspaper at the University of Oregon.
In addition to the mailing, the paper is distributed on campus. Goldman said after the issue was distributed on campus in early April, some people were upset about thecontent, copies were stolen from bins and one man came into the Insurgent office and ripped down theJesus-devil cartoon that was hanging in the office.
Media Relations Director Mary Stanik declined to comment on whether it was the mailing code or the content that spurred university officials to decide not to mail the papers.
Stanik said in an e-mail that a statement and a letter to the editor written by the university president in the Daily Emerald are ”all the information we are providing on this matter.”
”To the best of the university’s knowledge,The Insurgent is the only student group that has sought to use the permit during the current academic year,” the statement said. ”It could be possible that the permit has been used improperly in the past. However, the university is committed to working toensure that such possible improper use does not occur in thefuture.”
In university President Dave Frohnmayer’s letter to the editor in the Daily Emerald, Frohnmayer never mentioned anything about the bulk mail permit.
”While I am a ardent supporter of free speech, I also have strong beliefs that this freedom should be exercised with maturity and good judgment,” he said in the letter. ”Our campus community, includingour media, must be part of a civil dialogue that respects the rights and beliefsof our entire campus community even while it questions and challenges some ofthose beliefs.”
Goldman said the newspaper is completely fundedby the university so it has no extra money to pay additional postage for the 700 newspapers it mails each month.
Goldman said the newspaperhas been using the permit for the past four years. Stanik would not comment onhow long the newspaper had been mailed at a discount rate or why the use of the permit was suddenly a problem.