The University of Minnesota has warned one of its student-run publications that it needs to be more “culturally sensitive” when it comes to terrorists. Naturally, they didn’t word it quite that way.
According to Campus Reform, during the Minnesota Republic’s annual funding request, the university dug-up a cover from four years ago and used it to admonish the paper for its “overt lack of sensitivity to the Arab world.”
Anyone looking at the actual cover, however, would see the paper was merely mocking terrorists.
The headline, “The Minnesota Republic: Terrorists Hate It,” makes the paper’s point acutely clear—the paper champions free speech and freedom of the press. Apparently, however, the university’s Student Service Fees Committee (SSFC) is not fully on board with these First Amendment rights.
When students applied for funding for the Minnesota Republic, the SSFC committee came forward with the 2011 cover photo [emphasis added]:
“While reviewing one of the sample publications, committee members came across material that demonstrated an overt lack of sensitivity to the portrayal of members of the Arab world.
When pressed for information on how this piece made it into print, representatives informed the committee that, based on the date of this particular publication, the members responsible for that work are no longer in the organization and that this particular piece is not representative of the work produced by the organization today.
After assessing this information, the Student Service Fee Committee would like to emphasize for the group the significance of culturally sensitive discourse on a campus like the University of Minnesota, which prides itself on being home to a wide range of values and beliefs held by members that originate from countless cultures across the globe.
In the future, close attention may be paid to the content published by Students for a Conservative Voice to ensure that any material that is produced with student fee funds does not compromise the cultural harmony of the campus and to ensure that the material that is produced is not at odds with the criteria in place for receiving this funding.”
Why would the committee feel the need to bring this issue up now? They themselves pointed out that no one from the particular issue is likely on staff. It was nothing more than fearmongering.
More importantly: what about free speech and freedom of the press? The committee blatantly threatened the paper and for nothing less than the protection of terrorists.
Lastly, speaking of being 'culturally sensitive,' isn't it a bit ignorant of the committee to imply that all members of the Arab world can relate to...terrorists?
According to University of Minnesota student and Campus Reform correspondent Allison Maass, the paper habitually stirred up the embers around campus:
"Our publication, derived from the University of Minnesota’s Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV), allows students on campus to share their viewpoints no matter what—even if they are considered offensive.
And no other publication on campus can say that.
When Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Young Brown apologized to students for a student group throwing a fiesta on the grounds that it might offend the Chicano and Latino students, we printed Goldy Gopher with a sombrero on the front cover. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, we put a drawing of Muhammad on the cover, asking for speech over terror."
As someone who has worked as the senior news editor of my university paper, I can say from personal experience that this is an absolute outrage. I hope the students of the Minnesota Republic continue to challenge their fellow students to think deeply and to converse openly about cultural issues.