We, the executive staff of The Fed, would first like to reiterate our apology to the student body and our commitment to the fight against racism, bigotry, and ignorance in the Columbia community. Over the course of the past week students across campus have voiced their justifiable anger and concern over the publication of a cartoon in the most recent issue of The Fed. It has been a long and trying week and we must now ask ourselves, as a community, what our next step is going to be.
Many are demanding to know how such a hurtful comic strip made its way into our paper. The cartoon is clearly offensive; no one denies this. However, it was not our intent to further racist or bigoted ideals. The cartoonist, Ben Schwartz, intended the cartoon as a satirical critique of racial stereotypes. Those familiar with the Wacky Fun Whitey strip know that it has for several years been published in The Fed and Spectator. (Spectator has not run it since last spring.) The strip typically criticizes social absurdities and ignorance, this most recent edition failed to present its message clearly or meaningfully. Instead, many students have been truly hurt by it, something which neither the author nor the editors of The Fed ever intended. It is here that we, the editorial board of The Fed, have failed to do our job, and for this we apologize sincerely and wholeheartedly.
That the cartoon was poorly done satire does not excuse its publication in our newspaper. Though The Fed is an open forum for debate and a humor paper, we still have a certain obligation to ensure the quality of all works submitted. We recognize that we are not required to print everything that we receive. For these reasons we have amended our editorial process to disallow the inclusion of regular "features," and to ensure that all submissions receive the same editorial scrutiny. We recognize that this is not an issue of censorship, as the unfortunately flippant disclaimer attached to the cartoon suggested, but one of our obligation to print material of a certain quality. We regret terribly our publication of a cartoon in which the message was so obviously lost.
We recognize now the need to engage in thoughtful and reasonable dialogue with the Columbia community. With the help of the administration and the student council, we are working to set up forums for discussion with offended groups and individuals. Details concerning these discussions will be made public as soon as we have received confirmations regarding room bookings. Members of the student council and Queer Alliance have graciously volunteered their services as mediators for certain dialogues we plan to hold. In the meantime, we have been encouraging our members and writers to attend speak-outs and meetings on the issue of racism on campus to better understand the concerns of the student body and to express their own thoughts on the issue. Likewise, we invite anyone to attend our meetings or submit material for publication. We are willing to take whatever steps are necessary to help make amends with those we have hurt or alienated through our thoughtlessness. To this end, we need your help: we welcome and encourage your suggestions, feedback, and input on this or any other matter of concern or interest to the student body.
On Tuesday an editorial in the Spectator suggested that "the protesters won and the The Fed lost." This implies that The Fed and the protesters have mutually exclusive goals and are engaging in a battle with one side promoting racism and the other attacking it. On the contrary, we do not support racism and the individual members of The Fed are not racists. On this issue our goals are one and the same: to promote meaningful discussion and address an issue that is of serious concern on the Columbia campus.
Once again, we are truly sorry for the publication of the comic and are sincere in our hope that we can move forward from here with meaningful and constructive dialogue.
The authors are the editors of The Fed, an alternative monthly campus publication.