Rhode Island controversy uncovers debt


Conflict over cartoon prompts focus on finances; $41,000 debt to be repaid by campus newspaper staff





\nRHODE ISLAND - The decision to run a controversial comic\nin The Good 5-Cent Cigar at the University of Rhode Island\nin December has cost the paper $41,000 and put the campus through\na tumultuous finals period and reconvening of campus in January.\n

An outstanding debt was discovered in response to the controversy\nover the cartoon, when the student government froze the newspaper's\nfunds and examined how much student money went into publishing\nthe paper. The paper agreed to pay the school back for over $41,000\nin loans and other debts that it owes.

In January, Patrick Luce, a managing editor of the Cigar,\nleft the paper to pursue a full-time job at the Warwick (RI)\nBeacon. Luce said that he did not leave the Cigar in\nresponse to the controversy or possible impeachment.

"I had planned on leaving anyway," Luce told the\nProvidence Journal.

The comic in question, which ran on Dec. 2, was in response\nto the end of affirmative action at the University of Texas Law\nSchool, according to Tim Ryan, editor in chief of the Cigar.\n

The comic originally ran in the San Antonio Express in 1997,\nand was supplied to the Cigar by the College Press Service.\n

The comic depicted a professor standing at a podium and a black\nstudent entering the classroom. "If you're the janitor, please\nwait until after class to empty the trash. If you're one of our\nminority students, welcome!" read the comic.

In protest, a group of African-American students called for\nthe impeachment of the Cigar's editors and also staged\na boycott. The group later rescinded its call for the editorial\nboard's impeachment, and the Justice Department sent mediators\nto meet with minority students over the issue. \n


reports, Spring 1999