Murray St. orders review at TV station

Administrators says animated cartoon promotes racism: creator quits in protest

KENTUCKY ' Administrators at Murray State University implemented an editorial review board in October for its student-run television station after one official claimed that an animated cartoon that aired was racist.

The television station, TV-11, is required to have a 12-person editorial board that will preview all opinion, editorial and entertainment-based material at least 48 hours before its scheduled broadcast, said Jeanne Scafella, chairperson for the journalism and mass communications department. The station's student employees will fill all 12 positions. Five board members must approve material before airing, she said.

Administrators made the decision to create the board after some students, faculty and staff of the college alleged an 8-minute cartoon about campus life implied the school supported segregation.

In the award-winning cartoon 'Professor Hobo,' administrators opened an all-black residence hall in a misguided attempt to appease black students. The cartoon's creators, Justin Young and David Rothwell, said it was making light of the school's White Residential College, which in reality is named after a person and has nothing to do with race.

'It's obvious, to us at least, that in the cartoon the administration misunderstands the concerns of the black students and addresses the wrong issue [by giving them their own residence hall],' Young said.

Administrators immediately informed the television station not to re-broadcast the cartoon until the board could review the program.

Gary Brockway, provost and vice president of academic affairs, sent an e-mail to administrators and journalism and mass communications professors demanding the two cartoonists be removed from their positions at the station until 'university administration can be assured that racist programming and/or cartoons will not occur in the future.' He also stated that state funding could not be used to support racism on campus.

Brockway later said students should create programs that reflect a positive view of the broadcast journalism department in order to increase its enrollment.

Young resigned his position as graduate assistant with the television station in protest of the formation of the review board. He said the real issue at hand is whether or not the university can use fear and intimidation to force the student media to present only positive images of the university.

'There is great unrest under the surface of the department now as many students fear saying anything that might be found politically incorrect by one or more people,' Young said. 'The university [is using] one or two people to help push its PR agenda.'

reports, Winter 2002-03