A Facebook group is growing by over one hundred members a day as students organize to protest the UW’s increasingly conservative student newspaper, The Daily.
The paper ran an editorial last week by columnist John Fay defending California’s bigoted Prop 8, which banned gay marriage. The hackneyed piece made unsubstantiated and incendiary arguments about gay people and marriage. Fay wrote that “homosexuality is more of an emotional condition,” homosexuality is “a problem that needs to be dealt with,” and he suggested that gay marriages may lead to “incest, bestiality … or a 70-year-old man … marry[ing] 10 underage girls.” This illustration accompanied the article:
“Matthew Jackson, he is an illustrator on staff, and he felt [the man-and-sheep drawing] represented the argument,” says Kristin Millis, director of Student Publications. The paper’s editorial board, under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Sarah Jeglum, also endorsed Republican Dino Rossi for governor in October.
“The Daily has the right to post what it wants,” says rally organizer Kyle Rapinan. But, he says, “We want The Daily to apologize for the image it chose and not checking Fay's article for accuracy.”
“I think the paper should respond to its readers about what content is desirable and what is downright targeting and hateful,” says Rapinan. “The Daily should not post things that target minorities and spread fear and ignorance.”
The group, calling itself "Students for a Hate Free Daily," is adamant that it doesn’t want to censor the paper, but rather push the editorial leadership to be more inclusive about its viewpoints.
Normally, I’d think that rallying in protest of a newspaper would be absurd; if you don’t like what it publishes, protest by refusing to buy or read it. As people stop reading the paper, it would atrophy and die. But UW students heavily subsidize The Daily—the sole newspaper published campus—whether they like it or not. The $1.1. million budget is backed by $200,000 in student activity fees, says Millis. An additional $150,000 of ad revenues comes from university departments. So if their 15,000 copies-a-day student newspaper—which can never die or face competition due to artificial market forces—is hijacked by a right-wing editor like Jeglum, then it makes sense for the students to grab her by the ears with a bullhorn.
While removing the paper’s school subsidy could cripple the paper—I think that would be a bad strategy—that threat looms over the staff and editors. “I think that they take risks with offending public and of having that money taken away, and I think they are aware of those risks,” says Millis.
The rally begins at noon on Friday, December 5 on the Husky Union Building lawn.