University Student Government Can't Take A Joke; Pulls Paper's Funding After 'Offensive' April Fool's Issue

from the just-because-you're-not-laughing-doesn't-mean-it-isn't-funny dept

April 1st is generally acknowledged to be the shittiest day on the internet. Suddenly, everyone who isn’t The Onion thinks they are, and trusted sources of information become sketchy entities in need of copious amounts of side eye.

That’s the worst of it. Then there are others that celebrate the most worthless of quasi-holidays by going completely overboard. The Record, Buffalo State College’s newspaper, turned itself into the The Wreckard on April 1st, publishing several satirical stories.


And, in doing so, found out its student government not only couldn’t take a joke (like “President Conway-Turner authorizes drone strike on top UB leaders, killing 12”), but was also capable of being offended on behalf of everyone in the community.

Some on campus weren’t wild about The Wreckard, including student government president Emily Leminger. She emailed the newspaper staff and told them their April 1 edition was “a very serious matter.”

She wrote:

It has come to our attention from many students and faculty members that some of the topics discussed in the ‘Wreckard’ satire addition [sic] were offensive to members of Buffalo State and the surrounding community.”

Please note that your budget has been frozen, all publications of ‘The Wreckard’ must be removed from campus tomorrow by 5PM and relocated to your office.

The offended students and community members failed to materialize in defense of Lemminger’s decision. But Record adviser and journalism professor Annemarie Franczyk showed up to criticize the student government’s demands.

“The April Fools edition of The Record clearly was satire from the obviously altered name and typeface to the topics,” Franczyk said, “which no one should believe to be true. The edition was witty, smart and sharply written and was meant for nothing more but the entertainment of the student body.”

Realizing the decision to play on the Unspoken (and Unbidden) Feelings of the Unspecified Masses was gaining it zero traction anywhere but in the student government’s collective imagination, it swiftly reversed its decision. This announcement followed shortly after its budget-yanking statement. Fortunately, the student government only controls the purse strings, rather than writes the articles.

Hello Community & The Record, After much consideration; we have reconsidered our actions about freezing your newspaper budget. Our initial actions were made based on the concerns we received from several students. As United Students Government, students come first. The removal of the “April Fools” edition of the paper was called in order to protect our students from feeling uncomfortable. However, The Record you’re our students as well! & the freedom of speech and press proves that us limiting your distribution, is not right. After considering both sides of concerns, we will continue on reaching out to The Record for a meeting where a medium can be reached. We appreciate all of the efforts from alumni, media, and students pertaining the issue. Communication is the most important tool of all, and we would like for The Record to be a wonderful platform for communication to our community, as well as making sure students feel comfortable and protected by USG. Once again, we look forward to talking to The Record at their earliest convenience. Thank you to all. -USG Team

As an ode to free speech, it’s anything but. It possibly works better as a paean to the flaws in our higher education system — from its inexplicable desire to protect young adults from any sort of unpleasantness to the unavoidable feeling that the university is cranking out a generation of graduates who can’t communicate fluently in their native language, much less be convinced that punctuation isn’t the “salt” of written communication: something to be scattered liberally and randomly across bland and badly-composed prose in hopes of “taking it to the next level.”

Lessons were learned… and quickly. But will they stick? The announcement suggests the student government prizes “comfort” and “protection” over free speech. This isn’t exactly comforting, considering it holds the financial means to sacrifice the latter for the former.

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Comments on “University Student Government Can't Take A Joke; Pulls Paper's Funding After 'Offensive' April Fool's Issue”

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31 Comments
Lord Binky says:

for life, *mumble*, and the pursuit of *mumble* er.. fuzzy slippers

The removal of the “April Fools” edition of the paper was called in order to protect our students from feeling uncomfortable.”

Does that mean their next major effort will be to swap out all the campus furnishings for well padded ergonomically designs, enforce a very strict and uniform dress code, ban all negative language and controversial subject matter, to protect the students from feeling uncomfortable?

Geno0wl (profile) says:

Re: Snowflake

Where do people keep getting this widespread narrative from?
I graduated in 2009 and never saw anything at all about “protecting students from uncomfortable ideas”. Not in the slightest.
We have a few spotty stories either from a few over reactionary Admins, or idiot twitter people, and suddenly that is representative of EVERY college campus and EVERY college classroom?
That is simply a false and ridiculous narrative by people who read news articles and are not actually on a college campus.

Berenerd (profile) says:

The thing about Student sponsored things....

I was a member of the Student Government in the University of Maine at Machias. The policy wrote that as long as you had a membership of X students you could be a group. You gave the SG your request for funds and it gets approved and such. If you vary from the budget it would be noted the next time you ask for money. There was no pulling funds for offending someone. If there were, the Young Republicans would have never survived their trial period.
On the School side, each group needed a Faculty Adviser that was ultimately responsible for what the group did. When it came to things like publications and student government itself, they would often step in to give advice on the right course of action. I find it hard to believe that neither group had an adviser.
I am willing to bet that someone in the faculty got upset and talked to the student government and pushed THAT way.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

The outrage should be about the illiteracy

Forget the April Fools jokes.

We need some outrage about the obvious illiteracy of these student “leaders”.

How did these people even graduate from high school, let alone get admitted to college, let alone (ya, I know I said that already) get elected to student government?

I see their Facebook post has corrected “addition” to “edition” (!), but as of this writing there is still:

* “The removal … was called in order to” A removal “was called”? What?

* “The Record you’re our students as well! & the…” Where exactly did that sentence end? And is “The Record” singular or plural here?

* “proves that us limiting your distribution, is not right.” “us”? And where did that comma come from?

* “both sides of concerns” “of concerns”?

* “we will continue on reaching out” “on reaching out”??

* “meeting where a medium can be reached” What kind of medium would that be? The sort who talks to the dead?

* “students pertaining the issue” Is there a missing word here?

* “Communication is the most important tool of all”

Well, it’s pretty damn important, I’ll agree.

Anybody can make a typo or post something quickly without careful review – but this is far beyond that. Virtually every single line has a blatant grammatical or usage error.

Whoever wrote this (and presumably whoever approved it) is functionally illiterate.

Even our trolls here on TechDirt have a better command of English than these morons.

Is this typical of our college elite?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The outrage should be about the illiteracy

The removal … was called in order to

And why shouldn’t the removal be called? It had its own phone number, didn’t it? And it was a Wednesday night, so it was going to be home studying, right? And it’s not like they called collect, was it?

Oh, wait, they did, didn’t they…

Nevermind!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The outrage should be about the illiteracy

“The Record” is actually the name of the paper so the statement “you’re our students as well” would be in reference to the students that publish the paper. Still it would be more accurate to say something like this:

“…the students at The Record are our constituency as well” since the mandate of the student government is not to educate other students.

Otherwise you are dead on. Still I can answer your question about how they graduated high school. Simple regurgitation of information fed to them while proving themselves to be good little conformers. “Come and see the violence inherent to the system!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If I ran The Record, know what I'd do?

I’d take that feeble and semi-literate pseudo-apology to one of the professors in the English faculty and ask them to mark it as if it had been a piece of work handed in, then publish the result along with the grade it would have received and a list of errors/corrections on the front page of the next edition.

Or even on the front page of the next ‘addition’.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

in order to protect our students from feeling uncomfortable.
And THAT is the problem. If you’re offended, write a letter to the editor (and get the response “it’s April fools day you moron”) or just don’t read it. Nowhere in our Constitution is it said that the right to not be offended will not be infringed. Deal with it.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Serve in government?

I think this is definitive proof that anyone who wants to server, or does serve, in government (at whatever level) is not to be trusted to have:

1. A sense of humor.
2. Any sense of ethics or propriety.
3. The ability to properly ensure reasonable control of the finances we have entrusted to their ministrations.

Donnicton says:

Tim calling April Fool’s Day “the most worthless of quasi-holidays” in a glorious oldmanyellsatcloud.jpg moment, complaining about the having to scrutinize information to a negligibly more frequent extent for a predictable, traditional once-a-year event, and projecting this as a broad popular opinion using nebulous weasel word terms like “generally acknowledged to be”, while in the same breath complaining about someone else not appreciating humor.

Tim I love you but please man… pls mans.

Anonymous Coward says:

There are so many things wrong here...

Our initial actions were made based on the concerns we received from several students.

Just like with many other facets of government today, the whinings of a few are interfering with the rights of the many.

The removal of the “April Fools” edition of the paper was called in order to protect our students from feeling uncomfortable.

This is one thing wrong with society today. Somehow, liberals think they have a right not to be offended.

from its inexplicable desire to protect young adults from any sort of unpleasantness

Lastly, it isn’t about protection, it is about indoctrination.

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