U of Colo. paper restores opinion section; dean disbands 'fact-finding' panel

Paper staffers worried faculty members on committee were biased against Campus Press

COLORADO -- The opinion section of the University of Colorado's online student paper was back up Monday, and a controversial faculty "fact-finding committee" was disbanded as the Campus Press staff and university community try to find closure after a student column sent shockwaves through campus.

Student editors suspended the opinion section of Campus Press last week after student protest over the publishing of staffer Max Karson's column that said Asians "hate us all" and should be captured and "hog-tied." Karson told the Boulder Daily Camera the column was intended to be satire and to mock "racist white people."

Hundreds of students held a rally in February to protest Karson's column and some students called for advisor Amy Herdy and Editor in Chief Cassie Hewlings to resign, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

The Campus Press opinion section now is operating under new guidelines set by the editorial staff, said Jason Bartz, online director of the paper. Any opinion that deals with "race, sex, religion" or "anything that you can read and can be misconstrued" will be read by all four managing editors, he said. The entire editorial staff will read any material deemed "really controversial" before it is published, Bartz said.

Journalism department faculty met on March 3 to discuss the future of Campus Press, which is a student-run online publication produced as part of a for-credit class in the department. At the meeting, Paul Voakes, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, authorized a four-member faculty "fact-finding" committee to interview Campus Press staffers about the decision-making process that led to the publishing of Karson's column. The committee was disbanded Monday after students expressed concerns about the fairness of the "fact-finding" process.

"They've been really secretive about the way they're going about it," Hewlings said.

Hewlings said she sent an e-mail to committee members that said the staff wanted a group interview rather than the anonymous, one-on-one interviews suggested by the faculty.

Voakes said "the committee felt that it was getting so little cooperation from the key figures in the Campus Press controversy, they were just feeling frustrated."

Voakes said he will meet with student editors and Herdy and submit a report of his own to the university on the decision to publish Karson's column.

"I think that part of getting closure on this is going to involve a shared understanding of what happened," he said. "We're going to get closure on this."

Herdy said a meeting with Voakes would be a far better option for the Campus Press staff than interviews with committee members she said had "blatant biases against the Campus Press."

"(Voakes) has really conducted himself with integrity throughout all of this," Herdy said. "I think the students trust him."

The journalism faculty will continue meeting to address the long-term issues with the governance of the Campus Press, including whether the school should make the paper independent, Voakes said.

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