The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Zine pulled from racks

By Matthew Stone

Administrators yanked a student publication from shelves in the Campus Center last Friday, citing an unsigned letter that carried what Vice President of Student Affairs Laurie Hamre called “an element of threat” toward President Brian Rosenberg.The publication, a one-time “zine,” appeared in the Campus Center early in the day on Friday. Administrators had removed it by late afternoon. The student organization Macalester Peace and Justice Coalition (MPJC) funded the publication, according to a label on the back cover.

Associate Dean of Students Jim Hoppe called the MPJC members listed on the group’s charter on Friday evening to explain the action.

“I felt we had to make a statement,” Hamre said of the decision.

The letter, which appeared on the last two pages of the publication, reflected on negative responses to an open letter published in the pages of The Mac Weekly three weeks ago that demanded that Rosenberg resign or reinstate need-blind admissions. The item in the zine also spoke in support of the three week-old letter’s demands.

“Rosenburg [sic] is an unadulterately corporate appointment over our little company town,” the letter read. “He’s here to shape us up. To take the ever-so-slight socially progressive bent that has evolved at Macalester and recraft it into an effective corporate brand.”

“The real outrage is that he [Rosenberg] still has windows unbroken and tires unslashed,” read the section of the letter that administrators cited as constituting a threat. “That, on the rare occations [sic] he shows his face to the student body (when he’s not clinging to the arm of Koffi [sic] like they were best friends) our accumulated spit doesn’t rain down upon him.”

Hamre said that the removal of the publication last week was the second time she had taken such action in her time at Macalester. The other incident involved an issue of The Mac Weekly.

“I don’t expect everyone to be Minnesota nice, but I do expect some respect,” Hamre said. “I wanted to have the student body know that it won’t be tolerated.”

The student Hoppe first called about the publication’s removal said that the zine was not an official publication of MPJC and that the group had merely supplied the funding for the publication, the student said.

The student, who said that he had not been involved in assembling the publication, spoke to The Mac Weekly on the condition of anonymity because he said he did not want to spark suspicions about who was directly responsible for the publication.

The student said that the publication’s removal was a way for the administration to overlook the content of the argument and instead emphasize the medium used.

“It seems that most of the criticism of what’s been said has dwelled on the form rather than the content, which I think is a cheap shot and a way of avoiding addressing what’s actually at hand,” the student said.

Hamre said that the removal was not a political decision. The publication infringed on the college’s harassment policy and a college policy that prohibits unsigned publications, she said.

“There’s no chance for dialogue when it’s unsigned,” Hamre said.

The student in MPJC said the zine’s removal raised the question of whether the college had infringed students’ first amendment rights. Specifically, the college’s policy prohibiting anonymous publications “is a first amendment issue,” the student said.

“In every movement for social change, things are published anonymously,” he said.

Tim Gleason, Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore., said that Macalester was well within its bounds to remove the publication.

“From a legal perspective, it’s a private university. It’s not obligated, it’s not constrained by the constitutional limitations that would constrain a public university,” Gleason, a specialist in media law, said.

In interviews, multiple students said that they were largely unaware that the zine had even been published.

Emily Cox ’10, however, said that she and some friends had read the zine, including the letter that caused the removal.

“It was perceived as a threat, which was a complete overreaction,” Cox said.

The publication appeared in the Campus Center two weeks after a mock-up of Rosenberg’s “World Class” document appeared in the Campus Center. A student, without signing the document, had written marginal notes throughout the 11 pages that made largely the same accusations against Rosenberg as last week’s anonymous letter. The original document written by Rosenberg outlined his vision for Macalester through 2015.

The same policies that triggered last week’s removal of the zine would have applied to the “World Class” document as well, Hamre said.

“I didn’t know about that in time to pull it,” she said.

The MPJC student said that there was no connection between the “World Class” document and the zine.

As for the students involved in publishing the zine, Hamre said that the college would take disciplinary action either through the college’s conduct system for basic infractions or under the college’s harassment procedure, which would be triggered by a specific complaint.

Staff Writer Federico Burlon contributed to this report.

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