April Fools’ Edition of Student Newspaper Prompts Protest

The annual burst of student press satire at the start of April stirred an uproar after all.  A group of 70 to 100 students and faculty gathered on the University of Colorado, Denver campus recently to protest the April Fools’ issue of The Advocate, a student weekly.  Protesters declared the satire in bad taste, citing some articles for perceived hate speech and racism.  Angry students also confirmed stealing a majority of copies of the issue distributed on campus, returning some to the Advocate office as a show of their disgust.

Among the articles provoking certain students’ ire: “Dear White Guys,” a faux advice column in which Caucasians answer questions from “black guys” with a snarky undertone of racism that concludes “I’m just relieved you didn’t ask me how we keep your wages so low and the schools in your neighborhoods so shitty.”

A separate piece, headlined “Enjoy Obamacare If You Like Payin [sic] for Illegal Mexicans,” warns people that the President’s health care reform is “BAD NEWS people. It looks like everyone who voted for OBAMA BIN LADEN is now going to get whats coming to them because hey!! say goodbye to the land of the free because AMERICA is now the land of SOCIALISM and FORCED ABORTIONS.”

As the Advocate itself dutifully reported, Jeff Otte, the student writer of the “Obamacare” piece bravely spoke at the protest: “Otte got onstage to answer questions from the audience. ‘I have a public history of supporting Hispanic causes and culture,’ said Otte. . . . ‘In no way was I making fun of Mexican stereotypes— I was making fun of racist stereotypes.’ After shouts of ‘You’re a racist’ and other interruptions, Otte was asked by the audience to leave the stage.”

In a follow-up piece, Otte wrote that his piece aimed to start a conversation about what he perceives as an inherent racism in Obama’s health care plan: “I will not apologize for calling that racism out, nor do I regret calling it out through satire, a subtle yet effective means of social commentary.”

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In an open letter to readers, the Advocate‘s editor in chief expressed the classic mea culpa for misunderstood satire, “I am sorry anyone was hurt by what we printed. Our intention was never to hurt, nor to encourage hurtful ideas.  That, to me, is the saddest part. We wrote to defend the very groups who felt offended by what we printed. To say it quite simply: We’re on your side.”

In a separate piece, the EIC confirmed, “A necessary byproduct of a free press is that people are occasionally unhappy with what we print. It’s truly and honestly regrettable, but it’s a fact of the job.”

Comments
One Response to “April Fools’ Edition of Student Newspaper Prompts Protest”
  1. Aram ZS says:

    That’s a great response by the newspaper and an excellent statement by their EIC. It’s always good to see student newspapers standing up for themselves.

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