U of Colo. paper restores opinion section; dean disbands 'fact-finding' panel

COLORADO — The opinion section of the University of Colorado’sonline student paper was back up Monday, and a controversial faculty”fact-finding committee” was disbanded as the Campus Press staff anduniversity community try to find closure after a student column sent shockwavesthrough campus.

Student editors suspended the opinion section of Campus Press lastweek after student protest over the publishing of staffer Max Karson’s columnthat said Asians “hate us all” and should be captured and “hog-tied.” Karsontold the Boulder Daily Camera the column was intended to be satire and tomock “racist white people.”

Hundreds of students held a rally in February to protest Karson’s columnand some students called for advisor Amy Herdy and Editor in Chief CassieHewlings to resign, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

The Campus Press opinion section now is operating under newguidelines set by the editorial staff, said Jason Bartz, online director of thepaper. Any opinion that deals with “race, sex, religion” or “anything that youcan read and can be misconstrued” will be read by all four managing editors, hesaid. The entire editorial staff will read any material deemed “reallycontroversial” before it is published, Bartz said.

Journalism department faculty met on March 3 to discuss the future ofCampus Press, which is a student-run online publication produced as partof a for-credit class in the department. At the meeting, Paul Voakes, dean ofthe School of Journalism and Mass Communication, authorized a four-memberfaculty “fact-finding” committee to interview Campus Press staffers aboutthe decision-making process that led to the publishing of Karson’s column. Thecommittee was disbanded Monday after students expressed concerns about thefairness of the “fact-finding” process.

“They’ve been really secretive about the way they’re going about it,”Hewlings said.

Hewlings said she sent an e-mail to committee members that said the staffwanted a group interview rather than the anonymous, one-on-one interviewssuggested by the faculty.

Voakes said “the committee felt that it was getting so little cooperationfrom the key figures in the Campus Press controversy, they were justfeeling frustrated.”

Voakes said he will meet with student editors and Herdy and submit a reportof his own to the university on the decision to publish Karson’s column.

“I think that part of getting closure on this is going to involve a sharedunderstanding of what happened,” he said. “We’re going to get closure onthis.”

Herdy said a meeting with Voakes would be a far better option for theCampus Press staff than interviews with committee members she said had”blatant biases against the Campus Press.”

“(Voakes) has really conducted himself with integrity throughout all ofthis,” Herdy said. “I think the students trust him.”

The journalism faculty will continue meeting to address the long-termissues with the governance of the Campus Press, including whether theschool should make the paper independent, Voakes said.