U of Colo. paper suspends opinion section in wake of uproar over satirical column

Author says piece, which said Asians 'hate us all,' was intended to mock racist attitudes on campus

COLORADO -- Student editors have suspended the opinion section of the University of Colorado's online student paper, the Campus Press, following a public backlash over a student column titled "If it's war the Asians want... It's war they'll get."

The Feb. 18 column by staff writer Max Karson, which said Asians "hate us all" and should be captured and "hog-tied," was intended to be satire, said Amy Herdy, adviser for the Campus Press.

In a letter Karson sent to the Boulder Daily Camera, he said the column was written to mock "racist white people who never bother to understand or even consider Asian cultures and race relations at the University of Colorado."

In an e-mail sent to the Student Press Law Center Friday, Karson said he was currently not commenting to the press.

Student editors decided to suspend the opinion section until new procedures and guidelines are set for publishing opinion pieces, said Jason Bartz, online director for the Campus Press. The "internal decision" was in no way influenced by the university administration or journalism department, he said.

"The institutional leadership doesn't micromanage what goes on in the Campus Press," said Bronson Hilliard, a university spokesman. "If they feel this decision is in their best interest ... then we support that decision."

The Campus Press is a student-run online publication produced as part of a for-credit class in the journalism department. Under the guidelines of College Media Advisers, "the university does not engage in prior restraint of publishing; that is, the instructor reviews published material for learning purposes but does not act to censor the material prior to publication," according to the university's Web site.

The opinion section will be up and running as soon as "guidelines are set" and the paper has "clear distinction between news and opinion content," Bartz said. A meeting for the entire editorial staff to set guidelines is scheduled for Sunday.

"The column was a poor attempt at social satire laden with offensive references, stereotypes and hateful language," University Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson wrote in a Feb. 20 statement apologizing to Colorado's Asian communities.

Hundreds of students gathered at a campus rally Feb. 27 to protest Karson's column and another column published the day before, titled "No hablo Ingles," the Rocky Mountain News reported. Some students called for Herdy and Editor in Chief Cassie Hewlings to resign.

"I personally believe that change needs to happen and if you're still stuck in the blame process, one kills the other," Herdy said.

The SPLC could not reach Hewlings for comment Friday afternoon.

The Rocky Mountain News also reported that journalism faculty met Feb. 27 to discuss possible changes in how the Campus Press is managed, but faculty members did not release any details of the proposed changes. Student editors previously had met with Paul Voakes, dean of the School of Journalism, and agreed to measures such as having the paper's staff attend diversity awareness training, Voakes said in a Feb. 21 statement. The paper also will work with the university's diversity coordinator to set up a "Student Diversity Advisory Board."

Campus Press, Colorado, news, University of Colorado