Student government at N.Y college freezes — then reinstates — student newspaper funding after April Fool’s Day issue

NEW YORK — One article claimed SUNY Buffalo State president killed 12 people with a drone. In another article, the student newspaper reported New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned snacking. A third article highlighted low student-government election turnout.

The stories were fake — part of The Record’s annual April Fools’ Day issue — but outrage over the issue was not. Shortly after the special edition — called The Wreckard — hit stands Wednesday, the student government’s executive vice president froze funding to the student publication.

But after backlash from students, faculty and alumni, the student government reversed its stance.

“Naturally when you publish a satire newspaper, you’re going to get a few comments,” said Dave DeLuca, The Record’s managing editor. “People are going to raise their eyebrows, but we never thought that student government would even consider freezing our funds.”

Jonny Moran, The Record’s executive editor, said the paper had only heard positive feedback about the issue. Nobody complained the satirical newspaper’s content was offensive or in poor taste. That changed at about 7 p.m. Wednesday, when Student Government Executive Vice President Emily Leminger emailed the newspaper staff, notifying them their budget had been frozen and that all 2,000 print copies of the satirical edition were to be removed from campus by 5 p.m. on Thursday.

The student government’s reversal followed a story about the incident in The Record on Thursday and a statement from Vice President of Student Affairs Hal Payne, who argued the student government’s decision to freeze funding “may infringe on students’ right to free speech.”

Two hours after Payne’s statement, the student government reversed their decision in a Facebook post acknowledging that limiting the newspaper’s distribution was “not right.”

“The removal of the ‘April Fools’ edition of the paper was called in order to protect our students from feeling uncomfortable,” according to a post on the student government’s Facebook page. “However, The Record you’re our students as well!”

Contact SPLC staff writer Mariana Viera by email or at (202) 478-1926.