Legislative Council passes resolution opposing published opinion articles
UCSU is taking action in response to two opinion articles recently published by the Campus Press that were interpreted as racist toward two minority communities.
On Thursday, Legislative Council voted at its meeting to unanimously pass, through special order, a resolution formally opposing the pieces titled “If it’s war the Asians want .” and “No hablo ingles.”
While the resolution does recognize that the articles are protected under freedom of speech, it states that there is “a burden of responsibility associated with free speech rights.”
“We value First Amendment freedom of speech, but we also must recognize people’s right to feel safe,” said Dustin Farivar, UCSU vice president and junior political science major.
UCSU Tri-executive Hadley Brown, a senior English major and co-author of the resolution, said its purpose was to extend support to all those who were dealing with the impact of the articles.
“Students definitely expressed serious concern,” Brown said. “The articles that were published in the Campus Press made a lot of people not feel safe at this university.”
The resolution’s two other authors are Victor Hsu, UCSU health and safety director, and John Ali Sharza, UCSU diversity director.
Campus Press managing editors issued an apology on the publication’s Web site under the Feb. 20 issue. In it, they said the “Asians” piece is meant to be satire and a commentary on racism at CU.
Many members of UCSU said they did not see the article as satirical.
“A good satire is supposed to be tasteful, it’s supposed to make sense, and it’s supposed to be funny,” said Hsu, a senior MCD biology major.
Students also came to voice their unhappiness with the articles during the meeting’s open hearing session. Tim Ung, a junior integrative physiology major and co-president of Asian Unity, said that the Campus Press and School of Journalism need to be held accountable for what they do.
“(The articles were) in poor judgment of the CU Campus Press,” he said. “What if somebody takes that as literal?”
UCSU Representative-at-large Daniel Ramos, a senior political science major, said it was important for student government to respond quickly before the issue became old news. He also said that UCSU should be sure to represent the students who were offended by the articles.
“I think that UCSU, representing the students and representing the people who voted us to be here, we need to take a stand,” he said.
Sharza said he was happy with the unanimous outcome of the vote. He said it showed that UCSU was finally hearing the students, and taking a stance with the students.
“I understand freedom of speech, and I understand journalism, but not to the extent of hate speech, meaning when targets threaten, marginalize and incite violence against a group of people based on their identity,” he said.
The resolution itself said that both articles had reinforced stereotypes about the offended communities.
Brown said the published articles speak to a larger problem on campus, with hostility toward underrepresented communities. She said there needs to be more of a priority on education about issues underrepresented students face.
Obinna “Obi” Onyeali, Legislative Council’s co-senator for Arts and Sciences and a junior psychology and pre-communication major, said he has also observed this problem on campus.
“Time and time again, this campus has been hit with racial issues,” he said. “(The articles) were, to me, hate speech. I don’t understand why such a thing was allowed to go through.”
After discussing the Campus Press, Legislative Council also heard from CU GOLD, a department group in the UMC looking to gain funding under the UMC budget. The group is designed to allow for all students on campus to work on their leadership skills, if they don’t have the time commit to another leadership program.
The acronym “GOLD” stands for “Gaining Opportunities through Leadership Development.” Finance Board decided to seek the opinions of Legislative Council before deciding to recommend the group in the UMC budget.
“It was an unfamiliar program to us,” said Cate Greguras, a senior accounting major and chair of Finance Board.
Mallory Martin, a senior international affairs major, said that with consistent funding from UCSU, the group could double the amount of students it serves now.
“I think it would add so much,” she said. “It’s opportunities for leadership development of campus.”
Legislative Council President Boyce Postma, a senior architecture major, did express concern over whether there would be some overlap with other groups on campus, such as the INVEST program.
“I feel that the (the biggest problem is) overlapping of programs and student fees paying for programs that have similar mission statements,” he said.
Finance board will meet again to decide whether CU GOLD will be considered with the overall UMC budget. Legislative Council will have the opportunity to review suggested budgets from the Finance Board at next Thursday’s meeting.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer George Plaven at George.Plaven@colorado.edu