U of Colo. paper suspends opinion section in wake of uproar over satirical column

COLORADO — Student editors have suspended the opinion sectionof the University of Colorado’s online student paper, the Campus Press,following a public backlash over a student column titled “If it’s war the Asianswant… It’s war they’ll get.”

The Feb. 18 column by staff writer Max Karson, which said Asians “hate usall” and should be captured and “hog-tied,” was intended to be satire, said AmyHerdy, adviser for the Campus Press.

In a letter Karson sent to the Boulder Daily Camera, he said thecolumn was written to mock “racist white people who never bother to understandor even consider Asian cultures and race relations at the University ofColorado.”

In an e-mail sent to the Student Press Law Center Friday, Karson said hewas currently not commenting to the press.

Student editors decided to suspend the opinion section until new proceduresand guidelines are set for publishing opinion pieces, said Jason Bartz, onlinedirector for the Campus Press. The “internal decision” was in no wayinfluenced by the university administration or journalism department, he said.

“The institutional leadership doesn’t micromanage what goes on in theCampus Press,” said Bronson Hilliard, a university spokesman. “If theyfeel this decision is in their best interest … then we support thatdecision.”

The Campus Press is a student-run online publication produced aspart of a for-credit class in the journalism department. Under the guidelines ofCollege Media Advisers, “the university does not engage in prior restraint ofpublishing; that is, the instructor reviews published material for learningpurposes but does not act to censor the material prior to publication,”according to the university’s Web site.

The opinion section will be up and running as soon as “guidelines are set”and the paper has “clear distinction between news and opinion content,” Bartzsaid. A meeting for the entire editorial staff to set guidelines is scheduledfor Sunday.

“The column was a poor attempt at social satire laden with offensivereferences, stereotypes and hateful language,” University Chancellor G.P. “Bud”Peterson wrote in a Feb. 20 statement apologizing to Colorado’s Asiancommunities.

Hundreds of students gathered at a campus rally Feb. 27 to protest Karson’scolumn and another column published the day before, titled “No hablo Ingles,”the Rocky Mountain News reported. Some students called for Herdy and Editor inChief Cassie Hewlings to resign.

“I personally believe that change needs to happen and if you’re still stuckin the blame process, one kills the other,” Herdy said.

The SPLC could not reach Hewlings for comment Friday afternoon.

The Rocky Mountain News also reported that journalism faculty met Feb. 27 to discuss possible changes in how the Campus Press is managed, but faculty members did not release any details of the proposed changes. Student editors previously had met with Paul Voakes, dean of theSchool of Journalism, and agreed to measures such as having the paper’s staff attend diversity awareness training, Voakes said in a Feb. 21 statement. The paper also will work with the university’s diversity coordinatorto set up a “Student Diversity Advisory Board.”